Om Attack - "Heavy Rescue"
(InnerSpace Records 2000, INNERSPACE 7712)
From Aural Innovations #14 (January 2001)
I don't know if the San Francisco group Beyond-O-Matic has broken up, but they sure have mothered a number of side-projects lately. You've got Cookin' With Kurt (Kurt Stenzel and the Rev. Pete Fuhry) and a new Species Being (Frank Grau), both fantastic albums in alternate directions (and both also released on the InnerSpace label). This project primarily features Fuhry as the lead-man with Grau on drums, and comes the closest to the Beyondo sound on "Your Body", largely due to Fuhry's interest in various pop styles, though the space/psyche element is far less present. Though this album is not nearly as enjoyable as any of the above-mentioned three albums, I do certainly appreciate and respect the Rev's desire to record an album outside the usual psyche-and-associated sounds (and hell, the guy is in a New York Hardcore band, too, afterall). And this is not a purely pop album, as there are some ambient/psychedelic moments.
Overall, style and genre aside (though perhaps partly due to those - it's hard to say), this album doesn't kill me but it does contain some good tracks and other interesting tunes that deserve further illumination, so... The album starts off with a brief ambient/chant piece before launching into the first tune "Coffee Can Superman", which features a tight, groovy beat from Grau and Fuhry's high-pitched closely-miked vocals, including a real catchy chorus and '70s funk-guitar that could probably see this getting some airplay on commercial radio if it weren't for the band's underground status. "Perfectly Still" follows, a decent Floydian mellow tune with more of Fuhry's almost-falsetto vocals, reminiscent of a song from Beyondo's "Your Body". "Motivated" might be the most shocking of the poppier tunes on the album, with a serious look back to '70s funk/soul stuff, complete with funk-wah guitar, black-falsetto voices and alto-flute...and again, a catchy chorus. I happen to like a few tunes like this just because I listened to 'em as a very small child, but in this context it doesn't work as well. Interesting, though.
"Harmonic" is one of those tunes that features the more psychedelic aspect of the band, with some nice slow ambient guitar effects. Ironically, my favorite tune of the album might be "Until", which may be the sappiest of the love tunes herein, but the Rev's sweet vocal melodies just grab me in some inexplicable way and the slow accordion embellishes the whole mood. "Now-Anymore" features some nice cascading flute and mellow harmony vocals that somewhat recall the '60s, quite pleasant. "Rescue" is the heavy one, going the whole ten minutes with some tripped-out keyboards and coming the closest to the spaced-out ambience that we know these guys are capable of, though it only goes as far as mid-'70s Floyd, stopping short of the super-space Tangerine Dream-type tunes from "Your Body". Closing the album is "A Prayer", a Curtis Mayfield cover, punctuating the statement made earlier in "Motivated": "I LIKE this kind of music, so dammit, I'm gonna play it". Well-done, as is the album as a whole. So again, and I see this is a theme repeatedly popping up in my reviews and perhaps unnecessarily stated, but while this album doesn't totally drive me quatloos, I know there are plenty of space/psyche fans out there with more eclectic tastes, so maybe you should try this out.
Heavy Rescue is distributed by InnerSPACE Records. You can visit their web site.
Contact via snail mail at InnerSpace Records; POB 411241; San Francisco, CA 94141-1241.
Reviewed by Chuck Rosenberg