These hills are alive with the sound of Doom Trash Blues

beat man and the undergroundIt’s a Matter of Time – Reverend Beat-Man and The Underground (Voodoo Rhythm)

And it’s a Matter of Taste whether you dig the Reverend. We at the Bar have a lot of time for the venerable High Priest of Trash Rock, whether it’s in his clerical guise or cloaked in his garage trash skronk identity as leader of The Monsters.

This long player (available as a CD or LP) re-visits some old songs and goes in a few new directions, but is unmistakably the work of Switzerland’s most cuckoo garage/trash rock original. 

The back story goes a little like this: Beat-Man was coaxed to spend a week in a remote Swiss Alps chalet to record with a hand-picked line-up of people he’d long admired. He chose Milan Slick (keys), drummer Beatrice Graf (of Ester Poly) and local rockabilly guitarist Benjamin Claus. The material was played live. What you hear are complete takes. No overdubs.

“It’s a Matter of Time” is 11 tracks of warped garage fun. Beat-Man describes it best when he calls it Doom Trash Blues. You know what’s in store when you hear the opener, “I Want To Fuck You Baby”, a semi-acoustic strum, whose central lyric is precise in its intent. It’s all downhill from there.

Other than carnal concerns (also expressed in “Lass Uns Liebe Machen”, which means “let’s make love”), the songs are about technology addiction (“Slave to the Phone” and “Banned From The Internet”), inter-personal communication (“Shut Up!”) and dancing (“Jesus Christ Twist”.) And I lied about dancing; welded-on Beat-Man fans will recognise that last one as the re-working of an older song.

The sound of The Underground is punchy and the playing tight, suggesting the combo quickly developed an understanding in a week spent living in each other’s pockets. The production is suitably uncomplicated and lets each instrument shine through.

Beat-Man’s vocal is an instrument in itself. Its default position is set to “croak”. Its owner switches up to a gravelly shriek or a guttural growl, as the mood (and song) takes him. As the old saying goes: If you think it’s an acquired taste, you need to acquire some taste.

You need lyrical depth? “Banned From The Internet”:

They banned me from Facebook
They banned me from Twiter as well
They banned me from Instagram
Because I posted a picture of you

It shows how you really are
I shot it with my own camera
It shows you in a natural pose
Well the one from behind I suppose

That might reek of revenge porn to some, fixated adoration to others. If you know Reverend Beat-Man by his prior convictions for lewd and lascivious behaviour, you’ll know that it’s all in the eye of the beer-holder.

Milan Slick is in a synth duo with the Rev and brings a touch of Suicide’s edge to many of the songs – especially the doom funeral plodder, “Mongolian Talks to Alien”.  Graf’s drumming on that one adds a desolate touch of which the old-time Bad Seeds would approve. She’s also capable of great subtlety – as the relatively tender crooner “It’s a Matter of Time” attests.

“Get Down On Me” is a warped junk shop glam pop reject that’s been bent into a new shape, while “Banned From The Internet” puts on a country air to be the real odd man out among these 11 tunes.

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Tags: garage, voodoo, voodoo rhythm, reverend beat-man, the underground, it's a matter of time

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