"Phlodd" (10gevrecords; 2022)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Here's a quick tip for those of you who all but want to guarantee your music will be reviewed on Be creative with your submissions. We get about hundreds of submissions a month and, although we try valiantly, we can't review them all. So make your music stand out. Do something to catch our attention. Do something like Vertacyn Arc Materializer did.

When the package arrived in the mail, I knew it was a review CD from a band. You get to recognize those when you get a dozen each month in the mail (for those of you counting, most of our submissions come via e-mail). But the package from VAM felt heavier and just a little chunkier than your average CD submission. I opened the package and found out why. It was, as suspected, a CD submission, this time from a band in San Francisco. But there was a combination cable lock included in the package as well. And it was locked through a hole drilled strategically through the CD case and, subsequently, the CD itself. The enclosed press release explained:

"The third release from San Francisco art-rock band Vertacyn Arc Materializer has each 16-bit 44.1kHz sample perfectly and precisely computed. Then we drilled a hole through the CD and packaging. The resulting flaws have been individually inspected and flagged with warning labels. Cable combination locks have been inserted through the hole to provide the legal owner with a Digital Rights Management system to control listening access to this hi-fidelity audio recording."

And, yes, they included the combination so the lock could be removed, the CD taken out and played. And it played perfectly, even with the hold drilled through it.

Now, I realize that I've written four paragraphs about this CD so far and not mentioned the music once. but I wanted you to understand why VAM climbed to the top of our ever-growing album review pile. Because they got our attention.

So, what about the music? Well, it's not really hard rock, heavy metal or punk. It's closer to the new wave sounds of legendary bands like Talking Heads, The B-52s and Devo (with a little early Pink Floyd thrown in) and VAM might be pissed off that I mentioned those bands and not others. The music is often bouncy, always strange and utterly listenable. The eight tracks here are like nothing you've ever heard before; the album a unique listening experience that will draw you in with the stunning clarity and crispness of its production and keep you hanging in until the final note with its oddness and surprises.

My favorite track was "Weight Loss 101" with its loungy cool beat and off-key sounds but every track is fascinating, including the final track, the nearly 8-minute, spoken word "Slides" which I intend to listen to a little closer next time to see what kind of story is being told here (something about a '73 Chevrolet Malibu).

Here's the thing: I probably never would have listened to Vertacyn Arc Materializer if they didn't put together such an intriguing press kit. But I'm so glad they did! I've spun "Phlodd" a few times now, and I find something different to like each time. I've even gone to the band's Bandcamp page and downloaded their previous albums. Which, by the way, you should, too because—at the time of this writing—they're all free to download. If you're looking to expand your musical taste beyond the usual Rough Edge territory of hard rock, heavy metal and punk, let VAM expand your mind by checking out "Phlodd."

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2022 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.