CD Review

Ahab Rex - “Rollin' With the Ahab Rex Quintet”

By Marcus Pan

"File Under: A" Cute, guys, real cute. As interesting as possible, Ahab Rex shred any sensibilities of what hard and heavy riff music should be. With as much garage and punk lacings as your average tanker boot, their Rollin' With the Ahab Rex Quintet 2004 release is about as refreshing as a Yoohoo up the nostrils. Sure to knock some sense into the standard fare of the radio playlists.

Harmony is secondary to the message of Ahab Rex. With the off kilter riffwork apparent on Dummy, opening this disc with more attitude than a teeny bopper on crack, Rollin' goes headlong into unusual territory. Featuring Ahab Rex himself on bass and vocals along with a large assortment of partners in crime and such eclectic instruments as viola, bass clarinet and good old fashioned catwalk stand up bass. Rex has also guested on Emulsion's Death of the Author(1) and shows excellent prowess with his musical accoutrements which include influences from jazz jam to industrial, heavy metal to punk to even your occasional rockabilly styles. Is that a bit of Tool influence slinking into Undertow No. 5 for example? At least up until the tinkering piano comes in to break up the pizzazz and break things up, anyway.

Of bands Legends has reviewed recently, Ex Models(2) and Alice Donut(3) come to mind first off. The grudging, dragging nature of Vertigo sulks through vividly, what with the steel covered vocals and female "la la"s. The grungy Plastic People is one of my favorites on the album with its fast paced rhythm, speedy guitar and throaty vocals. Another favorite is To Whom it May Concern, which reminds me of the old Detachable Penis tune that made headway in some radio markets that many should remember. Scratchy guitar and funky jazz bass (stand up?) combines with Ahab's deep seated lyrical chants to create a truly original sound.

This is followed up by another chatty-style dirge, Dope Sick. This one reminds me of the bars that My Wife is An Axe Murderer's main character hung out in, complete with bass clarinet provided by Dug Abram. Rollin With the Ahab Rex Quintet closes with a Cure cover, Cold, which originally appeared on the tribute compilation Strange as Angels: A Tribute to the Cure from FTP Records. Ahab performs Cold with a dirty gritty sound and atmosphere and with the quirky guitar streaks creates a stunningly fine rendition.

Ahab Rex and his crew put out one really good disc. It's groovy, heavy, funky and lets the player's talents show through without trying to polish something that's better rough. While it's an acquired taste, it shouldn't take long for any music aficionado in search of interesting music to acquire.

Contact Information:
Interlink Audio
Ahab Rex
Post: 636 W. Diversey #120, Chicago, IL, 60614, USA
(1) Reviewed in Legends #145.
(2) Reviewed in Legends #134.
(3) Reviewed in Legends #143.