Burmese: Recorded and mixed by Burmese 2007. Hosted by Brian Turner / Cadaver Eyes: Recorded and mixed by Diane Farris at WFMU, 2007. / Released on Heart and Crossbone Records, January 2008.
Let’s just get this out of the way right at the start: if you’re into the kind of album that has a lot of nice tunes and melodies then this sure ain’t the one for you. This is the kind of freaky-sounds album that you put on at night to completely weird-out your loved ones… or cut short a dinner party. It’s the kind of album that you file under easy listening when you’re feeling particularly ironic.
Burmese hail from San Francisco. And that wasn’t a typo above: there are two bassists, both called Mike. Two bass guitars, no electric guitars, drums and singer.
Cadaver Eyes are an Israeli band: drums and “no-input-mixer” (which as far as I can tell involves connecting the input of a mixing console to the output and then manipulating the resulting feedback).
Most ‘split’ albums I’ve got are neatly divided down the middle: half the tracks from band A, then half the tracks from band B. It’s actually rather in keeping with the music on this release that it’s not so neat. Burmese offer 11 tracks (1-4, 7-10, 13-15); Cadaver Eyes fills in the gaps (5-6, 11-12 and 16).
The music reminds me of a lot of experimental metal that I used to listen to back in the late 80s / early 90s, mostly on badly recorded C90 cassettes which have long gone now. It’s mostly a combination of percussion, screams and various noises, sirens, feedback, and what sounds like the hum you get from earth loops.
In places it sounds like it’s been recorded in a place of torture, with reverb offering an element of depth and distance. The rest of the album sounds like a grindcore band being slowly turned through a meat grinder.
The album closes with Cadaver Eyes’ beautiful cover of the Lynyrd Skynyrd track ‘Sweet Home Alabama’. Of course, I say ‘beautiful’ when I actually mean utterly unrecognisable. This is how I imagine Skynyrd would play it if they were smacked off their heads on hallucinogenic medication and locked in a cage with a drum kit and a badly wired amplifier. And a couple of rabid wolves.
It’s not comfortable listening, but it is fascinating. This is like the audio equivalent of staring at a really abstract piece of modern art. It certainly offers more questions than answers.
But that perhaps is the attraction that this album offers me. It’s not throwaway pop music; it’s not metal-by-numbers; it is strangely compelling. I hear something new every time I listen to it. And I expect that I’ll listen to it again.
Review score: 60%