The Dread, The Plastination of Otis T. Fernbank

dread_otisPlastination: (n) A technique or process used in anatomy to preserve bodies or body parts.

I looked up the definition of “plastination” in hopes that it might give me some deeper insight into this intriguingly titled offering from The Dread. It didn’t, but the good news is that you don’t need the background to enjoy this weird journey. Picture if you will a kind of electro-acoustic outing with its roots in sort of a back-country down-home aesthetic that dropped a tab of acid and then started talking. This is pay-attention music, or more like pay attention or you might get lost. Or consumed by sound. One or the other. Either way, not a bad thing. Everything rises up out of a fog, like the blues-tinged swirl of the opener, “Goodbye, Otis, See You Soon.” When twangy guitars meet backward echoes and dense, dark washes of sound, the mix is both catchy and off-putting. But cool. As you can tell, this release puts me in several minds at once, and I like it. The title track lurches in with a twisted gnarl of sound bits but resolves itself into a bass-drum-driven drone that locks me in—and kind of creeps me out. “Roll in the Slicing Machine” gets its rock on when it ramps up, and it’s loaded with gorgeous psychedelia. “Otis Doesn’t Feel Himself These Days” exhibits a low-speed power, a kind of sonic wedge to open your mind. Loads of bass helps, and a vocal drop that lays in a Sunday-go-to-meeting vibe. And then there’s the raw, drum-fueled ritual of “The Music Will Set You Free…” This piece builds to a huge sound with a wall of guitar noise, practically baring its teeth at you and daring you to get close.

This release consistently surprised me as I listened to it over and over. It’s got an unexpected quality to it, a compelling oddness that picks up a lot of strength and credibility from how well-made it is. Don’t get me wrong—if you’re not into somewhat challenging music, this probably isn’t for you. Its patchwork narrative, its mash of sources, its refusal to be one thing at a time can all easily put off less intrepid listeners. But wrapping your head around this—and, more to the point, sending your noggin deep inside it—is well worth the effort. An inventive and smart bit of work from The Dread.

Available at Bandcamp.

 

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