Styles: hardcore, spazz, chimp rock
Others: Melt-Banana, Gerty Farish, Load/Providence
Fat Day have always been on strange terms with modernity. Their dozen or so records (six full-lengths now) since 1993, paroxystic dossiers of the absurd and the anomic, betray stubborn fascinations with ogres, elves, feces, and fauna — life, that is, writ large, and its tarnished underbelly. What might elsewhere signify primitive encampments against, say, Enlightenment rationality acquire, in this case, a new, delightfully mangled logic: always pressing the soft tissue of our built environment, Fat Day carve out unpredictable, difficultly odd paths of resistance as such, neither complicit nor born against. Their abstract, art-singed hardcore, surely ‘unlistenable’ by most rubrics, catalogues the muchness of our times while effectively denying the directional thrust of time itself. In this way, Iguanadonaland, the final Fat Day release and maybe a concept album, released four years past the band’s official death, is a disorienting thing, executed on its own irrefutable terms.
Iguanadonaland doesn’t sound unlike earlier Fat Day: spastic, exuberant, and built on jittery 11s and 13s; the songs rarely eclipse a minute; Matt Pakulski’s pubescent tantrums are by turns adenoidal, operatic, and orgiastic. Chaos can’t overrun their proverbial ‘chops,’ so the dissonant figures come through loud and, importantly, clear. The lyrics keep Wikipedia busy — “charivari,” “eft stage,” etc. — at once arcane and puerile. Unlike before, a full “orkestra” coalesces to fill the interludes between tracks; as a result, each song proper hits harder -- a happy accident, a combustion.
Some tracks bear the stain, uncharacteristically if still obtusely, of current events — which is to say, late 2004, when this was all recorded. On “Eine Kleine Eins,” war: “Oh my god it’s raining men/ Can’t wait to be the one to blow it all away/ When their Humvee went into a ditch/ The vast al-QaQa complex.” “El Ocho” squeals, “Drink their blood!/ Four more years!” The quartet mines subtlety in absurdity, and these more topical critiques still blossom -- fuzzy-set send-ups of the webs that confine us.
“Cell Tower” is another case in point: “Read the Bible!/ Read the Koran!/ Heat that shit up!/ Increase blood pressure in healthy men!” For Fat Day, dissent works in a cryptic way, shunted down to the anatomical level: the song’s title refers not to telecom but microbiology. Mediated by histology, scatology, and their bizarre valences with the information age, the band’s manias come out in an idiom that suggests Tourette’s but also bespeaks intellectual obsession and the unrest it breeds. Fat Day won’t just let it go.
And they intuit the shortcomings of explicit critique. “Wangla Bwoots” stares down Sam McPheeters, hardcore doyen and satirist, leaving much unsaid: “How can one man change the world/ How can one band change the sound/ It must be frustrating to be so…so…y’know.” Beef? Perhaps, but does it matter?
So this is it. Iguanadonaland effects no huge break, no decisive parting shots. But it exudes a sort of de facto originality, one that escapes the confines of ‘before’ and ‘after,’ elaborated without reference to any protocol. Flailing, slobbering, building new enemies just to tear them down: this is Fat Day’s permanent revolution.
1. We Must Leave This Place
2. El Ocho
3. Ten Men
4. Cell Tower
5. Protocol Droid
6. Number Place
7. Number Please
8. Golden Cage
10. Vestigial Organs Are Fully Functional
11. Wangla Bwoots
12. Veins of Metal
13. How Many Questions Have You Asked Today?
15. Ranger Rick
16. The Inept Eft
17. Let’s Skip the Paralympics!
21. Em Aye Eye
22. Mad Mad Mad
23. American Elf
24. Dawn of the Mammals
26. Brachiosaur Dream
27. Rattlesnake Galactica
28. Eine Kleine Eins
30. Don’t Pee in the Empire