Lye By Mistake
Arrangements For Fulminating Vective
posted on 5/2006 By:
Lye By Mistake couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. Arrangements for Fulminating Vective accomplishes the extremely difficult task of innovating within the convulsive niche first hollowed out by The Dillinger Escape Plan and since held open by Ion Dissonance and others. Is it dauntingly complex, self-indulgent, and sometimes a painful listen? Sure, but it’s also masterfully cerebral and surprisingly innovative.
Which is ironic, considering that Lye By Mistake initially sound like a simple DEP clone. Well, not necessarily a simple one; the first three tracks of Arrangements for Fulminating Vective are without question the most spot-on imitation of Calculating Infinity that I’ve ever heard. Everything that made that seminal release so stunning is all over “Silence, the Girl,” “If We Were Intense…,” and “Aboriginal Negatives.” Though guitarist Josh Bauman’s chord vocabulary isn’t quite so relentlessly outlandish (read: he uses power chords once in a while), he unleashes an absolute torrent of jagged, darting structures without soaring off into Psyopus-type obscurity. Drew Button’s drum performance is similarly spectacular and fittingly jazz-oriented, and though bassist Jon Truesdale often vanishes amid the flurry of diminished riffs and elaborate snare/hi-hat interplay, he shines in Lye By Mistake’s more subdued breaks. Vocalist Tony Saputo, meanwhile, has perfected the Dmitri Minakakis vox style while simultaneously managing the band’s keyboards and sound manipulation. For the record, said vocal technique isn’t nearly as random or uncontrolled as most think; summoning up that kind of psychotic presence requires quite a bit of voice control, and Saputo’s clearly done his homework. Needless to say, fans of extreme technicality absolutely need this album.
So what? Talented and clever as Lye By Mistake may be, they can’t best Dillinger at their own game. Fortunately, they’re not really trying to. Things get an awful lot weirder with “Ostrich Feathers and Apple Pie,” which opens with the same raging tech metal as its predecessors, but then segues into…a bluegrass segment? Back to the blasty-screechy-spazzy stuff after that, but then…Orient-tinted volume knob swells over tom work, spacey soloing over a hardrock bar chord progression, and then back to the mincing Asian melodies. It sounds disjointed when described because it’s disjointed musically, but not in the annoying “OKAY NOW WE’RE GOING TO MAKE A COMPLETELY INCONGRUOUS STYLISTIC SHIFT IN MID-SONG BECAUSE WE’RE PROGRESSIVE” manner that Between the Buried and Me popularized. Button provides some measure of continuity with his consistently jazzy percussion, but Bauman’s fluid soloing is what really makes it all click. His ability to manipulate modes and use bizarre chord changes to his advantage is so fine-tuned as to remind of ex-Mr. Bungle guitarist Trey Spruance’s musings in Secret Chiefs 3; lengthy closer “Hero’s Intention” features at least four or five minutes of Bauman leads, but his work is so colorful and so technically dazzling that even the harshest judges of soloing ability will be impressed.
But, as always, it’s not all roses for Lye By Mistake. Many listeners will be put off right from the outset by either frustration with the style or unwillingness to tackle the over-the-top convolution of the riffs. Similarly, the ambitious nature of Arrangements for Fulminating Vective will trigger the ‘too pretentious’ switch in the heads of more traditionalist fans. It’s not an unfounded charge; some of the nonmetallic interludes present in these songs are a little hokey (the horn-led salsa section in “900 Seconds in Search of Jerry” comes to mind), and Bauman would do well to back off the excessive speed in some of his solos. The sheer chaos of the music by itself can overwhelm too, as in the incomprehensible mess of instrumental paroxysm and vocal effects that opens “John Nash and the Flipper.” A lot of the album’s listenability is contingent upon one’s familiarity with this genre as a whole.
Nonetheless, though, Arrangements for Fulminating Vective is a superb experiment in a genre that I thought would’ve written itself into a corner long ago. It’s a little excessive and requires a major time investment to really grasp, but this specimen is absolutely worth it. Should Lye By Mistake survive to release another full-length (the law of Post-Successful Debut Breakups is against them), there’s a very real chance that they could scream and rave their way past their peers to the coveted forefront of the always-competitive tech scene.
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