The Coma Imprint
hat’s the fucking divorce rate in North America? It has to be bordering on 60% by now. Every day seemingly perfect matches disintegrate, leaving jilted, deceived and heartbroken exes filled with nothing but remorse and bitterness. It’s a sad state of affairs: millions of people following a guiding light of love only to have it flicker, fade and send them barrelling toward the rocks.
The marriage between aggressive music and hip hop fell apart years ago, approximately a week after it was consummated. “Epic” and the rest of Faith No More’s catalogue exposed many an ear to a fresh mesh of America’s two most aggressive and commercially viable musical exports -- rap and metal -- and eventually spawned a slew of imitators. Public Enemy and Anthrax one-upped FNM with “Bring the Noise”. The riffs were better, the MC-ing was fresh, the rap-metal craze was born. But despite the couple’s sunny appearance, the love was all but gone. Infidelities courtesy Biohazard, the soundtrack to Judgment Night and Raggadeath (if you’re not Canadian, you may not appreciate this) ripped apart a promising union.
As with most divorces, it is the children who suffer. The descendents of rap-metal’s brief partnership are whom we should be most worried about. Burdened by the scars of their parents’ stormy relationships, rap-metal’s offspring continually attempt to exact revenge on their parents by lashing out at others, at the innocent, at you, at me. Limp Bizkit, we are here for you. Linkin Park, I offer you my shoulder to cry on. P.O.D, Korn, Puddle Of Mudd and the rest of you dejected children, let the healing begin. Your parents are never getting back together again. But it’s not your fault. They were never meant to be a couple. They still love you, though. Very, very much. Except you, P.O.D. Everyone hates you.
The problem with marriage, real or musical, is that there has to be more than just surface attraction and more than just casual intercourse in order for it to work. Depth of feeling and mutual understanding is essential. That is why Candiria is such an amazing band. They are intelligent, their musicianship is unparalleled and they have a deep respect and knowledge of all the genres they belong to, whether it be breezy jazz, free-form skronk, death metal, electronica or hardcore. Modern Candiria songs are a seamless blend of all of these styles, a pulsing wave of heaviness that is dense, complex, emotional and eclectic, all the while possessing a deceptively simple groove and barked, heavily rhythmic vocals. It’s total head-bob material, but there are more notes, beats and fractured time signatures than you will hear anywhere else. Candiria’s last album, 300% Density was proof positive of this, and it was the first time the band perfected both their sound and their song writing.
The Coma Imprint is another story. This two-disc set is a combination of re-worked older material and glimpses at music to be released this fall on the band’s own label. The first disc is a fair representation of what the band was capable of a few years ago. The second disc is a fair representation of Candiria’s dull side projects.
For the most part, Disc 1 is fabulous. Containing a more schizophrenic, bi-polar sound than what the band puts forth today, the material on this half of the album is what fuelled Candiria’s fans’ expectations when the band was just beginning. The songs stop and start over and over again, breaking a hardcore stride here in order to fiddle with jazz there, leaving death metal growls behind so harsh mc-ing can take their place, damning continuity in favour of confusion. “Paradigm Shift” begins simply, with straight ahead hardcore grooves banging beneath Carley Coma’s brisk raps. At the point where one might think, “Hmm, they were a lot simpler back then,” a dizzying instrumental break ensues, cueing the screams, the volume, the onslaught that is most commonly associated with Candiria. From the strident grooves to the free jazz massacre at the song’s end, “Paradigm Shift” sets the standard of quality for the rest of Disc 1.
This standard is upheld for a fair amount of the disc, but not most of it. “Year One” is a lesson in juxtaposition, piecing together grind-influenced hardcore, near-ambient interludes and organ-led jazz. “Peel This Strip and Fold Here” is the finest of the disc’s four instrumentals, a breezy dose of cool jazz built on decidedly Latin rhythms. “Primary Obstacle” begins with a riff reminiscent of Fugazi’s “Song No. 1”, but then submerges itself in ultra-slow, grimy grooves.
The remaining tracks lack the energy and innovation of those mentioned thus far. “Tribes”, although a decent example of Candiria’s former use of world-influenced rhythms and instrumentation, is far too long. The ugly suspended tension is a stark contrast to the rest of the disc’s violence, but the tribal-drums-and-distant-screaming shtick runs its course long before the track’s conclusion. The rest of the instrumental tracks (“Faction”, “Molecular Dialect”, “R-Evolutionize-R”) are tame, unlively affairs that waft by without making an impression. The album’s key track -- the one trumpeted by the sticker on the front of the album -- a cover of Method Man’s “Bring the Pain”, verges on lame. The backing tracks are too simple; compared to the rest of the music on the disc they sound downright stupid, and they are not strong enough to compensate for Coma’s flow, which recall a poor man’s Aesop Rock. The song is, however, redeemed by it’s second half. “Multiple Incisions” is crushing, a magical wave of muscular repetition.
Disc 2 does not contain a “Multiple Incisions” to redeem its weakness. The six tracks contained on the disc range from hip hop to electronic to improv, and not one of them is worth listening to twice. In the context of a Candiria album, these tracks provide contrast and benefit from the input of all five of the band’s members. Here they seem lifeless and self indulgent. The two hip hop tracks, Carley Coma’s “Blue Suede Timbs” and Kid Gambino’s “Let the Mic Go” sound amateurish compared to the accomplished, sophisticated noise of the first disc. “Blue Suede Timbs” does get points for its live instrumentation, but “Let the Mic Go” sounds like Jurassic 5 augmented by new age keyboards. The two electronic tracks are snare-heavy jungle-light. They are both atmospheric, with nice guitar work on the former and some languid bass on the latter, but they fail to distinguish themselves as better than or even as good as the thousands of other jungle composers working today. The two improvised tracks courtesy Ghosts of the Canal impress me about as much as the improvised work of Jackie O Motherfucker: you can improvise and make atonal, un-dynamic, non-musical music on the spot? I’m so impressed. Disc 2 drastically lowers the quality of this set. True, it’s a bonus disc and is not actually Candiria, but if they want to play the marketing game, they can suffer the consequences.
Disc 1 is the only portion of this set that deserves attention and, like a doomed, hastily concocted marriage, is a lot of fun at the beginning but ultimately only serves to point out mistakes that were made and potential areas for growth; it will not satiate and it will not provide warm memories. Regard it as a learning experience, a time of experimentation that, for Candiria, was part of the process for achieving unimaginable bliss.
Reviewed by: Clay Jarvis
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01