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Tomahawk Mit Gas Review

General Information:

Artist: Tomahawk
Album: Mit Gas
Genre(s): Rock
Subgenres(s): Experimental Rock
Released: 2003
Length: 41 minutes
Language(s): English, Spanish
Label(s): Ipecac Recordings

Track List:

01. Birdsong
02. Rape This Day
03. You Can’t Win
04. Mayday
05. Rotgut
06. Capt Midnight
07. Desastre Natural
08. When the Stars Begin to Fall
09. Harelip
10. Harlem Clowns
11. Aktion 13F14

Tomahawk Mit Gas Cover

Tomahawk Mit Gas Cover

Tomahawk Mit Gas Review

Mit Gas (German for With Gas) is the second album by American experimental rock super group Tomahawk. Released only 2 years after their self-titled debut and the band has already shed themselves of their country influences and delved a little bit further into soundscape territory with more noise and ambient elements creeping into the mix.

Birdsong sets the ball rolling, ever so slowly, with a mild-mannered wall of distortion contrasted with samples of birds tweeting. If you can imagine a sludgy liquid slowly oozing out of your speakers with birds gently perched on your lightshades tweeting joyously then you’ll have some understanding of the surreal nature found in this song. The tension builds up over the first minute and then bassist Kevin Rutmanis and drummer John Stanier change the pace by beginning with a moody mid-tempo rhythm before Duane Dennison’s guitar comes in to enhance the tension further.

So far so good – and steady – then Mike Patton introduces his eclectic vocal stylings in the form of a wordless wail that sounds rather distant and is somehow akin to a lunatic chasing you through the woods with a knife, if only that lunatic was a gleeful Mike Patton taunting you with his sinister vocal acrobatics. The verse arrives with a characteristically obtuse narrative delivered in a deep spoken voice about “the way you look at me when you’re hungry/lay your head down, shoot a load in your ear/the way you look at me when you’re hunted” that only gives credence to the lunatic-chasing-you-through-the-woods image. The song eventually breaks into a frantic lead-guitar with the energetic rock attitude fans will be anticipating. A steady decline in tempo then leads to what would have been a disappointing fade out but buzzing noise, church bells and the familiar bird tweets carry the song into an unexpected and satisfying conclusion.

Delving into completely new territory, a looped drum beat more akin to an ambient drum and bass song is coupled with a slow and sombre clean guitar to make the mid-album Capt Midnight instantly stand out. In case there’s a chance of you losing interest the song explodes into full-on rock fury half way in and Mike Patton goes from an eerie croon to shouting without any vocal effects which lets the rawness of his performance stand by itself. The drum loop and ambience is restored after the outburst with the song ebbing and flowing to the build-up of it happening again through the use of noises and sound loops to keep the anticipation high without ever reaching the expected payoff.

More atypical song arrangements are also found at the end of Mit Gas with the bass and keyboard centric Harelip breaking down and turning into the transitional piece to Harlem Clowns to create a two part song. The latter quickly returns to the distortion and noise first heard on Birdsong and uses a looped snippet of dialogue stating “I don’t know how to read notes” before the unusual soundscape becomes the focal point. Another recording is played at the end which listings numerous other bands and artists.

Even more challenging than this is Aktion 13F14. It marks the return of the acoustic sound found on their debut but is nothing like what Tomahawk has done before. A mechanical voice, presumably performed by Mike Patton, is overlaid and gives the listener instructions on how to defeat an opponent in hand-to-hand combat and concludes with a reminder stating “remember, attack aggressively, with one purpose in mind: to kill”. A series of rapid snare drum rolls are performed before ear shattering noise is pumped into your skull at maximum volume and goes on relentlessly for about half a minute. Assuming you haven’t suddenly developed tinnitus there is a graceful period of silence before a melodic guitar begins and is overlapped with mumbled and incoherent voices.

There isn’t any real context available for the last two songs so their durability is down to how outside the musical box you’re willing to travel before you start asking if you really get what’s going on or if Tomahawk is just taking you for a ride.

With so much focus being given to the noise and experimental aspects so far it is fair to ask what happened to the atypical rock songs. The answer is that they’re still here with inviting names like Rape This Day, Mayday, Rotgut, When the Stars Begin to Fall and Harelip. They’re far more accessible and probably what most fans are after so they are more likely to garner repeat listens and favourability than the bits that genuinely remove themselves from most people’s understanding of music. In contrast to all of this there is a sincere moment to be found in Desastre Natural, a ballad with its only quirk being that it is sung entirely in Spanish and somehow it manages to fit in with everything else around it.

Mit Gas has a broader experimental edge that draws on ambient and noise music while still maintaining a balance with their off-kilter rock foundation. However at the same time these new influences are more likely to deter listeners so it is worth listening to for existing fans but for newcomers it is advisable to start with Tomahawks self-titled debut.

Performers:

Mike Patton: Vocals, keyboards
Duane Denison: Guitar
Kevin Rutmanis: Bass
John Stanier: Drums

External Links:

Tomahawk on Ipecac Recordings
Tomahawk on Wikipedia
Mit Gas on Wikipedia

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Tomahawk Tomahawk Review

General Information:

Artist: Tomahawk
Album: Tomahawk
Genre(s): Rock
Subgenres(s): Experimental Rock
Released: 2001
Length: 42 minutes
Language(s): English
Label(s): Ipecac Recordings

Track List:

01. Flashback
02. 101 North
03. Point and Click
04. God Hates a Coward
05. Pop 1
06. Sweet Smell of Success
07. Sir Yes Sir
08. Jockstrap
09. Cul de Sac
10. Malocchio
11. Honeymoon
12. Laredo
13. Narcosis

Tomahawk Tomahawk Cover

Tomahawk Tomahawk Cover

Tomahawk Tomahawk Review

Tomahawk is the debut album of the eponymous rock super group featuring vocalist Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Fantomas), guitarist Duane Denison (The Jesus Lizard), bassist Kevin Rutmanis (Cows, The Melvins) and drummer John Stanier (Helmet). With the band members’ collective backgrounds covering post-hardcore, noise rock, country rock and experimental music among other genres it would be difficult to guess what the end result would be although you could describe Tomahawk as an experimental rock album that blends a wide scope of influences together in their own twisted fashion while retaining some pop sensibilities, mostly in terms of song structures.

Gritty lyrical themes appear throughout the album to tackle different subjects with the most noteworthy arguably being found on Flashback, the first song on the album, which starts out with a seemingly harmless description of someone undergoing hypnosis before a sampled voice counts down “3, 2, 1” to start visiting memories to end up diverting into child abuse with snarled lines like “I’m a schoolboy why don’t you teach me/bend over and we’ll hush the squealing/put on the mask and dance for Daddy/wait for the world to say it’s sorry”. The bridge of the song sees it descending into a series of screams and cries that alternate between your speakers and make you think that if this is how the albums starts, it is going to be a twisted experience in one form or another if this is Tomahawk decided to introduce themselves to the world.

101 North focuses on hitchhiking through a ghost town the ends in a hijacking and the ensuing violence whereas the short country song Cul De Sac, which is stripped down to an acoustic guitar and telephone vocals, is used to express an apathetic view of the end of the world with Mike Patton speak-singing “the world is growin’ old/and preparin’ for sleep/but you and me are just not gettin’ outta bed/wakin’ up/sunbathing on the shores of a nightmare”. The lo-fi recording style used on this song adds an eerie touch to it much like the harmonica contribution of JD Wilkes (Legendary Shack Shakers) does to the country rock song Point and Click when it interplays with the bass guitar.

Underneath the grittiness of the lyrics found on many of the songs is a sense of humour and self-awareness in the band which comes out on the satirical Pop 1. This song mocks the nu metal and rap rock trend of the late ‘90s and early 2000s by using a steady drum/bass combo with keyboard ambience for the verses before lunging into a screaming frenzy on the chorus to proclaim that “this beat could win me a Grammy” backed by the guitar. There are more cutting lyrics found throughout the song but they are nigh-on impossible to understand without the lyrics written out in front of you due to the jabbering delivery of them.

Another country-inspired song is the albums closer, Narcosis, which is also sombre in nature and is complete with wordless chanting to counter-balance the noise rock explosion on Laredo. Tomahawk also penned a downbeat quasi-ballad in the form of Sweet Smell of Success complete with elements of noise music as well as the more even-tempered Honeymoon that has subtle glitching noises and panted breathing sounds.

Tomahawk offer a lot of variety on their debut album while managing to strike a good balance between accessibility and experimentation that comes through the blending of some pop sensibilities with different rock subgenres and the creativity that has manifested itself through the members’ collaborative efforts.

Performers:

Mike Patton: Vocals, keyboards and samples
Duane Denison: Guitar
Kevin Rutmanis: Bass guitar
John Stanier: Drums
JD Wilkes Harmonica on “Point and Click”

External Links:

Tomahawk on Ipecac Recordings
Tomahawk (band) on Wikipedia
Tomahawk (album) on Wikipedia