Recently I had the good fortune to head out to a local goth/industrial nightclub with some good friends, an event that as I near 3 decades becomes rarer and rarer. And while standing there imbibing beers and drinks of various quality, I noticed that the DJ kind of, well, sucked extreme chunks of assage*. I remember when I used to go there expecting some semblance of goth or industrial music. Now it seems that techno is all the rave. Sticking stock Sisters of Mercy tunes in the playlist once or twice a night doesn't really make it a goth club if you ask me. And being a rivethead expecting like music, I was rather disappointed.
Now don't get me wrong - there's a lot of decent techno out there. I'm not going into a list of names because I'm not in the mood, but I am going to mention why the three of us left early that night - when it hit a half hour of no rhythm change in the set it was just simply time to go. Techno and various trance/electronica are quite easy to make. Pick a back beat, pick a synth chord to throw on top of it, toss in a toy piano melody. I'd say to mix well - but these days you' don't even have to do that. You don't need anything to say, you don't need any form of training. All you really need is some keyboards, a couple of fingers and something than creates metallic flatulent sounds and you're a go. And people like this DJ will play you all night.
Which brings us to the question - what happens if you take someone who does have training and hand them some keyboards? Maybe get a couple of them together and stick them in a room to make something? Well, the answer depends on the influences and the people. When you put a bunch of people together that have such a wide array of influences as Baltimore's Boole, with artists that run the gamut from Front 242 and The KLF to Run DMC and LL Cool J, what you end up with is something quite extraordinary.
Baltimore's Boole is made up of Bradley "Br0d" Barkett, Michael "MAB" Barkett, M.J. "Dr. J." Barkett, Jr. and George Boole. All take responsibilities that range from the eclectic to the musically brilliant - from beer to wardrobe, Y2K Recovery to Rhythmic Deliverables. The final result is a coagulation of disco-techno-industrial-electro-EBM; oh hell, it's a brilliance of colors which you won't find anywhere else. Beginning their musical journey as The Apologizers back in '90, a move to MD along with the graduation of Br0d with a Bachelor's in E.B.M , the new George Boole and the Toggles finds themselves shortening their name to simply: Boole.
Boole are scary people. Riding the very fringes of the vampire discothèque, they wear cheese on their chest like badges of honor. Their self-titled release which showed up in my mailbox recently was immediately one of the CDs I knew that I would be reviewing personally, if only to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. Overall, Boole bars riveting to any genre as one could guess at merely a glance at their Influence Map as found on their website. From the techno-laden, Prodigy-style Subversitech to the synthpop/EBM Greet the Sun, Boole's work mixes up so many styles to come out resembling nothing at all, short of brand new.
The tracks are danceable, stompy, trancy and invigorating all at once. Rhythms are constructed flawlessly and the synth/key overlays are wonderfully created. While creating seriously well-done tracks, the lyrics are infused with humorous insights and ramblings. So many nuances coalesce together here that with every listen you're bound to pick up on something you haven't heard before, such as the sudden realization I just had now that during Greet the Sun there is a guest appearance by the bullet-chasing Speedy Gonzalez from old cartoons. You'll pick these things out as you spin Boole over and over.
Let's highlight some tracks like we always do, yes? Opening the CD is the almost-nominal (based on Boole's stage shows) Disco Vampire. A techno style, heavy-bass piece that, somehow, breaks into a disco style. It's just not something I can explain in words. Clearly tongue-in-cheek, Disco Vampire is a frolic for the dancefloor. Things get more serious as we move into Kraftjob, seemingly a tribute to Kraftwerk and Haujobb. Blending heavy electronic bass and rhythm with older comp-synth melodies, Kraftjob comes out as a good lead-in to the heavier dance-floor barrage that is to come. On to dance floor barrages we go, let's kick it up to track 5 with Epiphany. This one combines a heavy bass-rhythm background and lays over it a melodic chorale set complete with metal-washed vocals done in synthpop style. The slightly tinged vocals add much to the track to give it an otherworldly sound.
The last track we'll cover is by far something that you won't hear anywhere else. Seemingly put together as a big fat joke and turning out in the end to be not only musical but damn good, StreetBeater2 portrays the skills of Boole as they stomp all over anything even thought of by the likes of Fat Boy Slim and his entourage. Taking the theme song to the old sitcom Sanford and Son, mixing it up with awesome rhythms, throwing in a few voice samples from the same and spinning it out into a funky, rhythmic and somehow danceable track, StreetBeater2 defies explanation and definition. You simply have to hear it - check out their website for an MP3 sample of it done live.
The final word is that Boole has a little something for everyone. If you ever wondered what a musical blender might sound like, pick up their self-titled CD out on Dancing Bull Productions as soon as you get a chance. Brilliance at its most eccentric and brightly colored form.
* Possibly a quote I used before, but it's one of my favorites so I'm using it again.