Triclops! - Out of Africa (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Out of Africa (2008)

Alternative Tentacles

It's hard to define what qualities secure a band's position on Alternative Tentacles. The most successful independent labels tend to stick to a niche audience, appealing directly to the people who snatch up the label's newest releases based on the pedigree they've curated. But Mr. Biafra's life's work tends to appeal to genre-modding bands whose music is generally forward-thinking and not quite easily approachable.

Enter Triclops!, an array of well-accomplished Bay Area musicians from Bottles and Skulls, Fleshies, Victims Family and Lower Forty-Eight. Trying to describe the music made by these four musicians is difficult. I can say that it fits nicely next to Jello Biafra with the Melvins releases.

Triclops! takes punk songs and runs them through a meat grinder of precision polyrhythms, digitally effected vocals, swarming chord progressions and gut-wrenching riffs and dizzying loops. The overall effect is disorienting, captivating.

Though the general song length runs close to six minutes, and the band does feature precision instrument work and a high range of vocals, I wouldn't put them near Rush territory, though the band's attack is dangerously reminiscent of prog-rock.

The band members play like musical mercenaries, hired to commit war crimes and executing their direct orders with shameless efficiency. The guitars are constantly running through augmented scales over frantic but controlled drum fills. But what cements everything are the piercing vocals, run through different amps and distortion settings, sounding like a voice breaking through dimensional barriers on the album's shining opener "March of the Half-Babies."

The best interpretation of the music, however, could be an examination of the album's artwork by Lee Harvey Roswell, on display in full as the band's Top 8 on their MySpace page. Featuring centaurian beasts stacked on top of each other, wearing white gloves and clown noses, ripping into the fabric of reality with their hooves, holding the sun as a balloon tied to an umbrella handle and suckling the teats of the one of top of them, the artwork is all at once disturbing, surrealist, absurdist and awe-inspiring. You can't explain what it is without being able to show it to someone, and the same holds true for their music.