posted on 10/2004 By:
Somewhere a kid is slamming his once played copy of Air Conditioning’s Weakness on the record store counter and demanding a refund. “This is just noise!” the kid angrily complains. Somewhere else a different kid is sitting on his bed with this album cranked up to “11” and is happily shaking his head. “This is just noise!” the kid says in enchanted wonderment. About the only thing that these kids have in common is that they are both fans of heavy music and both had strong reactions to the new Air Conditioning album, which is of course, just noise, mostly.
Strong reactions to this album are almost a guarantee. Probably the most accurate review I could give this is to predict that, if played for ten fans of heavy music, six would not only hate it but be pissed off about it the rest of the day, three would find it intriguing enough to spin a couple of times, and one would be truly enamored with this enormously challenging album.
Don’t be fooled by their name, Air Conditioning’s music doesn’t provide a bit of refreshment or comfort. If this music is reminiscent of air conditioning in any way, it’s a similarity to the whirring machinery that eventually does provide some relief. In other words, it’s like the process not the outcome. Weakness consists of three tracks--the first is a minute long, while the second and third are 23 and 16 minutes, respectively. These long songs consist of highly repetitive riffs and drumming that are covered with a rumbling buzz about a mile deep. This gives the songs a very unstructured and chaotic feel that sounds; well just sounds like noise. It’s noisy, it’s grating, and creates an effect akin to chewing on sonic tin foil.
The most effective “song” is the final track, “Welcome to Seaworld/Championship Rings”, which begins with a catchy but bizarre guitar sliding effect that sounds like a child’s ray gun that has been possessed by something otherworldly. The drums join the chaos by providing a simple snare, bass, and cymbal beat. The fuzzy bass then adds a simple repetitive line. When layered together, the whole seems to add up to more than its parts. The song, like the other two, churn and drone without respite. And just when you think you’re going to grind your teeth right out of your skull, you catch enough of the rhythm or guitar line to stay your aching jaw. The vocals fit the style quite well, and vary from whispers, to playful pleading screams, to out and out shouts. Like everything else, they are repetitive, covered by a thick layer of audio funk, and are more often than not, unintelligible.
These songs are as droning as they are chaotic, and although they take diametrically different approaches to their music, fans that appreciate the monumental droning of SunnO))) may also dig this band. However, I wouldn’t recommend anyone buy this without first listening to some audio samples. In fact, listen to those samples a couple of times. It does take a couple of spins to find an appreciation for this stuff, assuming of course, you ever will appreciate it. As for me, I find myself on middle ground. I definitely don’t hate it, but I far from love it. For whatever reason, I find this avantgarde audio chaos somewhat intriguing. It’s is not something that I’d listen to more than rarely after enjoying a few initial spins, but I do think I’ll return to Weakness. It is unfortunate that the band didn’t break the album into smaller chunks by dividing these songs into tracks, because this would be much more enjoyable in small doses. But then, that would make it easier for the listener, and that is something that Air Conditioning just won’t allow.
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