US - Washington - Full Moon 56 - 05/07/01
999 Levels Of Undo
Sub Pop Records
The first thing that happens when you put on this CD, is that a great animation film pops
up. The film is good illustration of the first track on the album, My Head Popped. A
playful psychedelic animation, mostly in black and white but sometimes with a few colours
added. It's sometimes figurative, with constant changing pattern but it also contains strange
images of people, for instance a girl playing a guitar sitting on a flying record like flying
a magic carpet. The CD also contains different interpretation of the cover by different
well-known artists using different techniques like painting, drawing, and photography.
Steve Fisk was one of the early artists of Sub Pop. He has also produced bands like Nirvana,
Screaming Trees and Beat Happening, and had his own band projects Pell Mell and Pigeonhead.
But over the years he developed a big interest in electronic and sample-based music and has
for instance collaborated with cut and paste artist Negativland. Despite this interest in
electronica, Steve Fisk says in interviews that he prefers to record with traditional
equipments as he sees the recording industry being victimized by too much technological
improvements (Seattle Weekly, March 1-7. 2001).
His solo album contains eight electronic mood pieces, sometimes with hints of drum'n bass,
techno beats and most of them in a cut and paste technique with elements from different genre
like jazz, heavy and rap music. He also has contribution from several guests like Bliss Blood
from PainTeens and Kim Thayil from Soundgarden. The result is sometimes interesting, sometimes
beautiful, sometimes funny, always surreal but a bit too messy for my brain. For instance track
number three Time, Speed, Language starts out really beautiful with a Portishead-like
part, and the droning, mysterious vocals of Heather Duby. But then this really awful
experimental "polka jazz" takes part in the middle of the song. The same thing happens with
track number seven, Polymorphic Light Eruption, which starts quiet and mellow and then
enters a messy atmosphere of techno beats. Track number eight The Backwords Song with
musical contribution of Kim Thayil from Soundgarden, is also quite good with both a singing
voice and spoken words vocals. I guess the cut and paste technique is at the same time both the
strength and the weakness of the album. The album is playful and imaginative, but not very easy
to listen to.
Copyright © 2001 Mariann Skjerdal