03 February, 2008

Organized Chaos

A few weeks ago, I posted the video and lyrics to a song by the Hold Steady called "Stuck Between Stations". One of the lines in this song goes:

"...Most nights it's crystal clear, but tonight it's like it's stuck between stations, on the radio..."

This lyric sums up my feeling when listening to the band Dragons of Zynth. Their name conjures images of online multi-player games and the more fantastic Led Zeppelin songs that draw from Tolkien, but their sound is multi-layered psychedelia with a white noise background. At first I was a little put-off by the messiness of their sound, but as I've listened to Coronation Thieves, I've come to see some vestiges of organization, some fossil-like threads of intention that run through the songs on the album. To paraphrase another Hold Steady song, this music isn't just the white noise that boys and girls in America spin while they kiss, this is an album worth an extra listen.

"Anna Mae" is the single on Coronation Thieves, if you can call any song on this album a single. It's a fuzzy ode, that sounds like something Trent Reznor could produce if he was ever in a good mood. "Anna Mae", despite its lack of cohesive melody, is a sight more accessible than "War Lover", which sounds like a marching band playing in a swamp, with and inebriated Phil Collins on vocals. No lie. "Get Off" waltzes along with an indiscernible instrument that could be string or horn or demented combination. The chorus blasts through obnoxiously, and slams that indiscernible instrument out with blasting percussion. "Take It To Ride" and "Funky Genius" are both hip-hop influenced, but their sound could not be so polar if they were Forro and Scandinavian death metal. "Take It To Ride" is the chaos of a busy street-corner, the mental distraction of a city full of strangers: dark and vaguely dangerous. "Funky Genius" is soft and thick with sound, the flow of a beat-poet rippling over a synth loop.

Coronation Thieves is messy and layered. It trips along to its own musical rules and only attracts those listeners who find something beautiful in chaos. Although they've often been compared to contemporary noise-rockers like TV on the Radio, Dragons of Zynth's sound is much grittier and less cohesive. In fact, after listening to Dragons of Zynth for an afternoon, TV on the Radio seems positively hook-filled. If you really want to hear something different, pick up Coronation Thieves, otherwise be warned that this is terra incognita and "here there be dragons".

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