A-Frames Black Forest

[Sub Pop; 2005]

Rating: 2/5

Styles: art punk, industrial noise, black rock
Others: Art of Noise, Joy Division,

Mixtures of noise and rock can create special, magical moments. When done proper justice, it not only uses emotion and thought, but it just sounds damn good. And I'm not just talking about bleeps and blips, drones, and one-finger piano, all bundled up for aesthetic contemplation -- I'm talking loud, physical crashes, mangled meshes of sound and force, pots and pan, the works. Chaos is the freest and most uninhibited part of a song, and its intertwining with conventional notions of music has the potential to make a song extraordinary.

However, taking a test run through the A-Frames' Black Forest might provide insight into unorganized chaos at its most bland. The Seattle-based art noise aficionados tackle the mess of noise + rock with mixed results. Much of the album wallows in forced repetition in all forms. The lyrics are hackneyed, the noise is too contrived, and the eerie nature of the album is lent towards old B-horror movies in lieu of deep psychological thrillers.

Even the titles try too hard to present an aura of mystery and darkness, but the music is nothing more than mediocre pomp. "Death Train" relies on a tame dance punk progression that does little to inspire dancing or trashing. The drumming is overtly crude, akin to Animal's (yes, the Muppet) -- or Mick Fleetwood's -- animated flailing that does little to bolster the music.

The light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how dim it shines, comes with "Eva Braun." The music is less circumstantial noise, leaning on the strength of a dark march composed from simplistic riffs and military drum beats, possibly a simple homage to Hitler's mistress and the dark sludge of the Gestapo's iron fisted reign.

The A-Frames have a long journey ahead if they plan to mine the fields of murky noise, punk, and rock. Black Forest is a subdued attempt at harnessing the power of musical turmoil. The songs drag, the lyrics lag depth, and many of the songs break down into nothingness due to a lack of concentration and effort. The band has a long road ahead to become the artists they erroneously represent.

1. Black Forest 1
2. Experiment
3. Galena
4. Death Train
5. Flies
6. Eva Braun
7. Black Forest 2
8. Quantum Mechanic
9. Memoranda
10. U-boat
11. My Teacher
12. Age of Progress
13. Negative
14. Black Forest 3