Saturday, October 25, 2008

Idiocy is bliss.


The following review was originally written for the first issue of Underground Wires. All of the albums reviewed within the zine were released in 1995 and were thus required to be written about from the perspective of one stuck in the dead centre of the nineties.

I’ll immediately assassinate the elephant in the corner of this room by mentioning a young group of upstarts called My Bloody Valentine. Four years on from the release of Loveless, The Idiots - a dreamy Dublin trio - release a record seeped in the influence of Shields and company. But it has also been seeped in a vat of uniquity and goes to great lengths to try to make both progress and a solitary work of stature. Although this self-titled ‘mini-album’ counts only seven tracks amongst its ranks, it clocks in at around 35 minutes long, testament to the band’s effort of design and liberty of structure.

The opening track ‘Slow’ is the most traditional and accessible song here, but it too is inventive through its usage of layers of filthy duelling guitars, effects-laden with varying levels of fuzziness. One of them is played to provide a beat (on top of the already pounding drums) and another is severely altered in order to convert its sound into that of a synthesiser. But the real success of this tune is its chorus, where lead singer Brian Mooney stretches a simple and everyday first person pronoun into an impossibly catchy six-syllabled refrain. I defy you to rid your cranium of the phrase “I have had enough” for quite a while after having heard this.

From hereafter, it becomes evident that the three Idiots like to shun conventional structure and the wordy cramming of songs, instead preferring to spend their time oxymoronically building spaces wherein they can then litter their chunks of tasteful noise, waves of reverb and fits of vocal repetition. At times - like on ‘Screwdriver’ - the thumping drums and high voltage riffs can make them sound almost like a metal band, but there’s also an underlying fragility buried beneath the bed of sound and intimate vocals. Exhibit A is the haunting game of hide-and-go-seek that is ‘Pinned’. The drum beat’s B.P.M. replicates human running and the tone of the music suggests a dark woods, late at night. To add to this canvas of fear, Mooney’s breathless and creepy “I’ve found you” is enough to strike fear in even the bravest of listeners.

As a fascinatingly inventive piece of art music, this album is one which needs to be allowed to wash over you (despite the hygiene-related worries I’d have in doing so) and stands in direct juxtaposition to its humbley-monikered creators. Although much of what is to be heard here is militantly challenging and wondrously deep, it’s also possible to listen to without supplies or a shovel. Constantly dynamic and mysterious, the only obvious thing about it is the lack of idiocy involved. Then again, ‘The Genii’ isn't quite as good a band name, is it?

I Should Go

1997 interview
Beautiful Unit myspace - the current solo project of Mr. Mooney.
Trust Me I'm a Thief - an excellent record label founded and run by two of The Idiots.


David said...

Never heard of this band before.. thanks!

Bryan said...

Great review! I think the album doesn't altogether capture the ferocity of the band live though...Brian has tons of tapes of unreleased stuff lying around, I think there are the vaguest of plans to someday release some of it, I reckon that might do a better job. Brian is releasing his album on thursday (31 March 2009!) in the Joinery on Arbour Hill (Close to Walsh's pub in Stoneybatter). There'll be wine & cheese, an exhibition of Trust Me I'm A Thief posters and most importantly Brian will be playing live...we have a band to play 2 songs from the Beautiful Unit album and another long piece. It's Brian on guitar/vocals/keyboards, Jimmy Eadie on Bass/vocals/keyboards/effects and me on drums. And it's free in! It will be on from 5pm until 7. So.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article. Idiocy is bliss ;)

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