WHO ARE THEY? Four math-rock rule-breakers, noisy non-conformists and exciting experimenters from London who are this week’s biggest, buzziest British band — and one of the few acts that actually deserve and justify the hype for a change.
WHAT IS THIS? The art-school alums’ much-anticipated debut disc, a nine-cut collection of prime-number time signatures, seat-of-the-pants arrangements, everything-and-the-kitchen sink instrumentation, inspired improvisation, virtuoso musicianship, herky-jerk spasms, high-tension weirdness, cacophonous outbursts, whisper-to-shriek vocals and just about anything else they can cram in there.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? Your hippest music-snob friend’s entire record collection, spliced and diced into one band.
WHAT WOULD BE A BETTER TITLE FOR THIS ALBUM? Maxi Midi.
HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? While wearing a turtleneck sweater and knowingly nodding your head in approval.
WHAT 10 WORDS DESCRIBE IT? Proggy, punky, angular, limitless, unpredictable, outrageous, dynamic, risky, intellectual, original.
WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? These shapeshifters and surreal creations don’t always qualify as songs in the traditional sense. But as works of strange and surreal audio art, there isn’t a dud in the bunch. Having said that, King Crimson fans might find Western a comfortable entry point to their curved universe. Meanwhile, Butthole Surfers followers should skip to bmbmbm, while John Lydon and PiL poppers might want to start with Of Schlagenheim (the latter word translates as Hit Hard, which seems fair for this crazed, lurching assembly).
WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY SAY? ‘I have no idea what I’m listening to — but can we hear it again?’
HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO THIS? As many times as it takes to decipher the damn thing. Which seems like it could take most of the rest of your life.
IF THIS ALBUM WERE A DRUG, WHAT KIND OF DRUG WOULD IT BE? Some sort of designer concoction that combines the hallucinatory qualities of LSD, the trippiness of weed, the focused intensity of Adderall and the jittery lunacy of crystal meth.
SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL? It’s like Hunter Thompson used to say: When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.