Ready for brain-melting? Anthroprophh’s got the goods to break your mind in all the right ways. Born from the degenerate psyche of Paul Allen (of The Heads), Anthroprophh deliver a three-quarter-hour of power on the band’s second full-length release Outside The Circle. It’s an insane, layered roller coaster of garage, drone and old school progressive rock, and boy is it hot.
Outside The Circle opens with a manic frenzy on the six minute-plus Returning, a track that features Allen’s krautrock-esque vocals that harken back to his previous output and channels the affected delivery of Can’s Damo Suzuki, especially on Tago Mago. It’s followed by Dead Man On The Scene, where Allen amps up the stoner vibe and puts some sound bites in the mix. The vocoder is a nice touch – a weird one, but come on, was anything less expected?
The bass-heavy Space Box Zonk Machine (a title fit for Frank Zappa’s next posthumous release) is no place for the faint-hearted. It lapses into a sludgy Melvins riff and some carefully applied post-punk electronic effects from early Killing Joke or The Fall. It bleeds into the next track Dog, which was an unnecessary separation as Dog pretty much carries on the same melodies and vibe as its predecessor with no changes.
Allen sounds like a British Captain Beefheart on 2013 And She Told Me I Was Die (yes, you read that correctly) as he spouts off deranged-steam-of-consciousness lyrics juxtaposed with guitar pedal abuse so bad that shoegazers overdose. Two ambient minute-long drone interludes, and we’re back with more drudgery in Detached And In Its Own Mind, whose second half is a curious mix of tape feedback and acoustic guitar that collapses into another guitar freak out. There’s no use trying to figure anything out: Anthroprophh delivers primetime bombastic fuckery, and you’re just along for the ride.
But that’s not to imply in the slightest that there’s no structure or actual form. Allen knows exactly what he’s doing. Outside The Circle is a structured disaster comparable to designing rides on Roller Coaster Tycoon so they fly off the end of the track or setting one’s Sims on fire. The title track aptly demonstrates Allen’s meticulous craftsmanship: it slowly builds from a rolling tribal drum line into an effects-laden collage of guitar noise that lays bare Allen’s krautrock influence. Every bit is perfectly placed, and the track climaxes against an oscillating bass until it dives right back into a reprise of every previously explored idea.
Earlier this year, Anthroprophh released the 12-inch Precession on Cardinal Fuzz Records, which combined Om-esque ritualism and drone with progressive rock. These meanderings aren’t to be found on Outside The Circle with the exception of the two short interludes Albrechtdron and Gottmelt, the latter for which Anthroprophh made a short, surreal music video. Both tracks deserve to be much, much longer; Precession was a great foray into the subtler side of experimental music, and Anthroprophh would have done well to expand the concepts of Albrechtdron and Gottmelt into full-length tracks instead of the itty-bitty ditties they currently are. Instead, Outside The Circle is a lot closer to Cardinal Fuzz colleagues Black Bombaim and The Cult Of Dom Keller, which are must-listens for fans of this release.
Outside The Circle is the album to show that friend who says there’s nothing going on in rock music anymore. It’s got twists and turns, but without any persistent assault to the eardrums that makes some experimental the synonym of unlistenable. Anthroprophh wear their drugs on their sleeve, and Outside The Circle is an album that’s certainly worth a hit.