Big Block 454 - "I Changed My Dentist.. I Changed Him Into A Horse"
(Raspberry Records 1998, CD)
From Aural Innovations #7 (July 1999)
From Manchester, England, Big Block 454(BB454) are primarily the duo of Colin Robinson and Pete Scullion playing what sounds like an arsenal of keyboards, synths, samples, and loops, and guitar. The band claims influences including The Residents, Faust, Can, Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, Syd Barrett, Harry Partch, Bela Bartok, and Brian Eno. With a list like this you might expect a lot of zaniness and... you'd be right! The CD consists of 21 tracks, many of which are under a minute, and only three that are much over two minutes. The whole album is a collage assault and BB454 are creatively out of control in their use of 'turn on a dime' changes. Quirky synths, funky beats, and spaced out electronics are the order of the day as the band experiments with both pop stylings and marginally accessible sonic experimentations.
"It Takes A Vigorous Baboon To Stir An Enormous Pond" has a low rumbling synth that functions as a 'feel it in your chest' bass with layers of techno beats that are wonderfully impossible to follow. "Vector Analysis Can Be Fun" features BB454 playing the blues in their own sick way. "Ale & Cakes" is most certainly Robert Fripp jamming with The Residents. And "Danbert Nobacon Is A Slaphead" is BB454's rockin' stoner tribute to Black Sabbath.
Does that all sound confusing? Here's some more... "17 - Day Shirt" is a Can sounding tune with a funk beat, and by golly is that Damo guesting on vocals? "This Is The New Typography" is a schizophrenic indecision between whether to be heavy techno rock or an acid rock freakout. And on "Learned Bride Thrice Fools Bridegroom" BB454 take on beat jazz and poetry monologing.
Big Block 454 retains their sense of humor and fun throughout, and after digesting the album and crazed song titles I was convinced that a squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag can indeed be fast and bulbous. Got that?!!!
You can visit Big Block 454 at their web site.
Sound files are available at the band's mp3.com web site.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz