Helios Creed - "Chromagnum Man" (Dossier 1998, DCD 9088)
From Aural Innovations #6 (April 1999)
Chrome-veteran Creed is following his buddies Pressurehed et al. into prolific activities of late, including both new and old Chrome releases, the ambient side-project Dark Matter, and his solo works. With a lineup that includes both Stench brothers (Hilary and John on bass and drums, respectively) on some tracks (though it doesn't say which), this band is as much Chrome as is possible nowadays. Also, Helios' son Theo shows up "with his own unique style & sound," though it doesn't say what instrument he plays...presumably guitar.
The first two tracks on "ChroMan" are both psychotic-sounding excursions into experimental sounds and backmasking techniques, with both Tommy L. Cyborg (aka Greņas) and Z. Sylver assisting Creed in the synths and sampling department. "World Infiltration III (The Dragon)" then brings out the patented Helios-heavy guitar buzz and the obligatory altered vocals (No, as usual, you can't understand them). "Dimension 6" is full of dark, pulsating synths and duel guitar leads that are slightly out-of-phase, yielding an uneasy false echo. An abrupt cut-off leads awkwardly into the percussive-heavy march "The Rapture," but once your brain adjusts to the style-change, this tune becomes quite enjoyable. "Twilight Zone" indeed features a mock reproduction of the TV show theme song, alternating with sonic blitzes from Creed's guitar and various psychedelic effects. Another stormtrooping space-march, "Fallen" calls upon particularly gurgly synths but also Sylver's crackly and slightly flat voice. The title track finishes things off as a brash, psychedelic fest with instruments and voices brawling amongst themselves.
I've heard just enough Chrome and Creed solo material to say that "ChroMan" is appropriately labeled the latter. It's more experimental in nature than the parent group, not necessarily in sound development, but more in composition style. Few of these nine 'songs' fit any recognizable structure, and as such, aren't easily digestible. It'll be a matter of taste which ones appeal to any single person, but there is enough interesting music going on here for me to give the album a borderline 'thumbs up.'
Reviewed by Keith Henderson