Flies EP: Musical Schizophrenia

thepaintedman rates this: I HAVE NO IDEA

Bone Gunn Floating Head

Bone Gunn is quite an interesting name for a band. Before even listening to a note of any of Bone Gunn’s tracks, one must first contemplate the name. What type of music do you think a band called Bone Gunn would perform? Where does a name like that come from? Why does Gunn have two “n”s?

Answers to those questions may be revealed as we push forth in discussing the Flies EP, though perhaps we will be left with just as many, or more, questions than before we began. Below, I will break down my process of reviewing this EP and we’ll see what we come up with:

1. I download the tracks and burn them onto my iPod.

2. I being playing the EP, while beginning my routine of googling the artist before tackling the review.

3. Midway through the first track, I hear the singer begin to yell during what was seemingly a chilled out track. At this exact moment, I read a blurb on my search result that calls Bone Gunn an “Electro-Folk” act.

4. I open a review on The Noise: Rock Around Boston‘s website that describes a live Bone Gun show in March of 2009 as follows:

Before Bone Gunn comes up next, the room fills and the crowd is buzzing with anticipation. A man in a Vietnam issue army jacket, a ski mask, and military goggles creeps around my shoulder and nearly gives me a heart attack. Next thing I know, the music starts and this masked man is up on stage singing. The first song builds slowly but surely, with ethereal interludes breaking up a salsa-esque bass groove. The song explodes with a drum part reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails’ “Piggy.” The second song is straight-ahead rock until the end bombards me with tribal drums, a tasteful guitar solo, and a gut-wrenching scream from lead singer Bryan Kane. Throughout the set Bone Gunn’s harmonically strange songs maintain integrity through their pop structure. The final song, “Flies,” delivers tenfold. At the end of the song, guitar player Brian Penny smashes his guitar into innumerable pieces as he swings it around by its strings. It is clear that the band has given every last ounce of energy they have. I can’t wait to see what surprises Bone Gunn will have in the future.

5. As I contemplate what is said in this review, I begin to hone back into the music playing from my stereo behind me. It sounds a lot like a David Bowie ballad. I lean over to my iPod and see that the song is called “Love Loathe”. I find myself grooving to it, relaxed and somewhat enchanted.

6. I resume my google search and am disappointed that there are no consumer reviews of the EP on Amazon. I like to read what regular folks think about the EP.

Bone Gunn Album Cover

7. I read some more reviews of their live shows, all praising the band, calling them “experimental folk rock” and “folk noise” and “folk industrial”. At this time the album has not only restarted, but is back to the second track, which has a quiet tone. Soon the 3rd track begins, this time I am paying more attention than last. This track reminds me a bit of a Philly band I like called The March Hare in that it combines elements of jazz, metal, and electronic music. Before I can analyze the track to my liking, it’s over and that Bowie-esque ballad is back on. Too lazy to switch the track back on, I just close my eyes and sway a bit, enjoying the track.

8. The 5th and final track comes on as I snap out of my closed eye daze. It reminds me a track I made on my computer years ago that I entitled “Eye of the Storm”. It is just drumming for a bit and I can’t help but feel like it’s building up like my track did. Except that, just when I think it’s gonna bust out, he begins to sing with a whispery voice. After a verse, I assume the breakout is coming, but it doesn’t… it just keeps the same basic tone for some time. Then a keyboard comes in and metallic drums that sound like gears join in. A whole bunch of weird effects join the party and I soon find myself looking around the room, paranoid that something bad (or, at least, something weird) is about to happen. Nothing weird happens and the inevitable loud burst that song is about to deliver never comes. Track 1, “Flies” is back on.

9. I take a break from the EP to drink some water and eat a carrot. I decide to call it a day and come back to Bone Gunn’s music the next day, refreshed and with a clear head.

10. When I return to listening to the EP the next day, I am still completely uncertain what to make of this band. I listen to the 5 tracks through 4 more times, more intently than when I had the previous day.

11. After these listens, I am still perplexed, not only about who Bone Gunn is, but also by whether or not I like the band.

I am left with the following review:

At times raucous and at others serene, Bone Gunn’s Flies EP is truly an interesting portrait of musical schizophrenia. The multiple personalities of the music range from the frenzy at the end of “Flies” and through “Medicine Ball” to the entrancing, whimsical feel of the part glam, part alt-country “Love Loathe”. There is as much Trent Reznor on this EP as their is Connor Oberst. Their is as much Captain Beefheart here as there is David Bowie. But, Reznor and Bowie worked together and it sounded good, so why not? Right? Hmmm….

The weirdest part of the EP, is that despite employing seemingly disjointed and little associated sounds and styles, it has a good deal of continuity. While one would assume that this much disparity in musical styles would lead to the obvious assertion that Bone Gunn is unable to find their true voice, their true sound, but that is quite the contrary. Some inexplicable component runs through all of the weirdness that is the Flies EP and connects it together. Perhaps it is just the weirdness of it all, but I suspect that it’s something more… unfortunately it’s something more that I can’t quite put my finger on.

Do I like this EP? I’m not really sure. But I don’t hate it, that is certain. It is technically sound and quite complex. There are great melodies, tons of time and tempo changes, and all sorts of different sounds and layers. Suffice it to say that Bone Gunn is one band that I intend to follow as they progress and grow. Hopefully, I’ll get to experience them live, as well, but for now I will settle on listening from afar and trying to figure them out a bit more.

Will you like this EP? Well, do you like folk, anti-folk, industrial, aggro, metal, glam, alt-country, jazz, jazz fusion, and/or world music? If you answered yes, check this EP out now. If you answered no, you still need to check this EP out now. Whether you love it, hate it, or find yourself as confused as I am, I promise that checking this EP out won’t leave you bored or uninspired.

~ by thepaintedman on November 10, 2009.

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