Alibi V.23 No.52 • Dec 25-31, 2014 

Sonic Reducer

Geocidal is a new album of experimental music made by rock heavyweight Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle) in collaboration with composer Anthony Pateras. Recording under the moniker tētēma, the duo embraces the spirit of the avant-garde while maintaining a rock and roll conceit that declares the genre a malleable set of burning moments and exploding expectations. Tētēma’s Geocidal is a truly planet-destroying set of compositions, invoking dissolution, chaos and entropy as the inevitable outcomes of humanity’s interaction with the Earth. Pateras handles keys on this recording with a brutal delicacy that’s matched and sometimes contrasted by Patton’s evocative vocals. Opening track “Invocation of the Swarm” transcends the normative with its provocations. And follow-up tracks “Pure War” and “Emptiness is Ecstasy” along with closer “Death in Tangiers” lend credence to the existential argument that all we have is now. Or as tētēma would say: “The Hell of Now.”

Berkeley to Bakersfield ()

Before Cracker, David Lowery was responsible for the glorious hit-and-miss musical kaleidoscope that is and was Camper Van Beethoven. Other than divining water and going on bad trips, CVB took the skinheads bowling, establishing a singular, influential Califas-bound rock sound. Lowery continues to explore the sounds emanating from that state on Cracker’s latest Berkeley to Bakersfield, a two-disc set that contrasts the conflicted, class struggle aesthetics of the San Francisco suburbs with the spare and country-fried inland intonations peculiar to the state’s lonely and sometimes windswept midsection. Lowery and crew (guitarist Johnny Hickman, drummer Frank Funaro and bassist Sal Maida) do an apt if predictable job of describing the northern section of California, covering its politics and peculiarities with aplomb, especially on “El Comandante” and “Life in the Big City.” The second disc is similarly in-touch, as “King of Bakersfield” generously demonstrates.

Ghostface Killah doesn’t merely have four seasons to reckon with: The dude has 36 Seasons to account for, and that’s the title of the Wu-Tang Clan cleanup hitter’s latest. Out this month, the title references a fictional character’s accumulated years spent longing for a heroic return to his primal stomping grounds. There’s hardly any sentimentality on this collection of funky, freaked-out East Coast hip-hop narratives, as told by Ghostface avatar Tony Stark. Starting with descriptive opener “The Battlefield,” Stark explores his triumphant, sometimes troubled return to a world that’s simultaneously alluring and repellent. Compositions like “Love Don’t Live Here No More,” “Emergency Procedure” and “Pieces to the Puzzle” quantify the complexity of the hero’s journey with the sense of purposeful, rudely elegant despair that’s accepted and transcended on closer “I Love You for All Seasons.”