CD Review

History of Guns – “Apophenia”

By Marcus Pan

ApopheniaSometimes one of the most fearful moments I get is putting in a CD, for the first time, from a band who you might know personally. I slip it in going, "Please, let this be good. Let it be interesting. Let it make me say something nice." Because you want to say something nice to the people you like and you know. But sometimes you can't. And it scares you every time you slip in something...because what if it's not very good (to YOU - opinion wise of course) and therefore, journalistic integrity requires you to state that as your opinion since you are, after all, supposed to be an unbiased critic. I've lost friends over this.

History of Guns is an example of this scenario – I talk to one of the members on LiveJournal fairly often, or we at least read each other if not talk. Their previous, Flashes of Light[1], was a half and half sort of thing – I really dug the rhythm movements, bass, drums…but I thought the vocals and such were a slight mediocre. Experimentalism is, after all, hard to pull off without getting a little silly – it’s kind of part of it. I’m quite pleased to report however, that Apophenia surpasses the previous silliness and really shows us what can be done if you really don’t care what other people think about what you’re doing.

The liner notes on Apophenia are well done, I’m always a big fan of liner notes. Anything that opens with "I really don't know what I'm doing" is sure to be a good read. I do want my LJ friend that I mentioned earlier to add 20 geek points to his total though for the following three items: 1) +5 for using the same image for both LJ and the album; 2) +5 for quoting Wikipedia in the jacket; 3) +10 for teaching me what “apophenia” means. If you don’t know what it means, use Wikipedia for looking it up.

The 4/4 march of Death of a Nation opens us up here, building its drum base as it moves along. It grows to a near explosive ending, pressurizing as it nears the end. I really and truly dig the spoken word on Your Obedient Servants. The vocals have a Detachable Penis feel and the music infuses a 50s/60s Spy Hunter groove into the track. The combination is brutal fun.

1 in 3 is dirty dirty drum ‘n bass, which we’ve already established History of Guns has done well since Flashes of Light. Apophenia continues this trend but adds more of a spoken word to it – a surrealistic storytelling that we’ve gotten a bit used to on Apophenia by now even if it remains disconcerting. The grooviness of Divide and Conquer is throttled by its drum ‘n bass speed rhythm.

Does Anyone Remember the War? doesn’t seem to fit together right. The weird organ melody doesn’t like the bass much and instead they argue through most of the song. The pleasant opening of Battle of the Bands with its symphony opening and Bambi-like surroundings gets shredded by HoGs dark guitars. The over fourteen minute History of Guns / After the Breakdown closes Apophenia out. This one just defies explanation completely. There’s moments of drunkenness, dirty trance, puking (I think), more speedy drum ‘n bass, goth rawkingness, guitar riffs and who knows there’s probably anal sex in here somewhere. But I’m just guessing. There is murder in here though…definitely murder. And depression, ego destruction, insults, screaming…I could go on.

Apophenia is an excellent release. It’s unconventional, messy, dirty and fun. A lot of times when you experiment it doesn’t quite work out – but every now and then you might invent the light bulb or figure out a new way to apply an enhanced synthesizer. In History of Guns’ case, they’ve done the latter, creating an example of unfettered strangeness in a sea of blasé dark rock.

Contact Information:
Liquid Len Records
[1] Reviewed in Legends #153.