Strange Attractor - "Blow Hole"
(Cleefo/Myopicat Records 1998, SA9801)
From Aural Innovations #14 (January 2001)
Strange Attractor is an earlier project from guitarist/singer Ludent Tremmel whose GNO album we reviewed last issue. From Connecticut, the quartet consists of Ludent Tremmel on guitars and vocals, Zippy Schmegryan on keyboards, David Lambert on drums, and Dean Sequin Bachmocker Sypher on fretless bass. The promo sheet compares Strange Attractor to King Crimson, Frank Zappa, and David Bowie. Zappa definitely... there are indeed bits of Crimson... Bowie I don't hear at all. What we do have on Blow Hole is a fiery set of ass kickin' progressive rock that manages to be complex in its construction, yet not at the expense of good old head bangin' rock.
Not every track grabbed me but the majority are high powered complex rockers with enough instrumental pyrotechnics to keep heavy rockin' prog fans happy. Among the highlights are "Fear It" and "Clamdip", both of which include pounding rhythms and a metallic edge made all the more potent by the combined guitar/keyboard attack. And "Clamdip" takes off into a kind of Morse/Holdsworth fusion realm in which the intensity level is high. "No Air" is another molten rocker that changes moods and rhythms on a dime. The keyboards and rhythms lend a quirky edge to the music, yet the pace is relentless throughout. There's even a jazzy/spacey break in the middle that gives the listener a brief breather while settling into a nice groove.
The Zappa influences bear themselves out on "Everybody's Gotta Die", a jazzy fusion tune. I suppose it's Tremmel's soloing that most reminded me of Zappa. "Till It Under" is another Zappa styled tune, still jazzy but with bluesier screaming guitar soloing. Quite nice. "Retching For The Stars" is another blazing rocker with start/stop rhythms that keep the listener continually off balance as the band rips through a series of rockin' mood changes from quietly intense to racing and screaming. The Zappa and Crimson influences merge a bit on this one.
Strange Attractor's music is similar to GNO... both rock hard and Tremmel's vocals are unmistakable. The main differences are that Strange Attractor includes keyboards, Tremmel's guitar playing seems to be light years ahead of that heard on the GNO disc, and the quartet is much tighter than the GNO trio. I dig the GNO disc but Strange Attractor took me a bit by surprise. Prog fans who like to rock hard will dig this.
For more information you can visit the Cleefo Records web site.
Contact via snail mail at Cleefo Records; PO Box 317; Willington, CT 06279.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz