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Album Review

Circus Devils – “Ataxia ” – [Rockathon Records]

Thurston Hunger   11/26/2008   12-inch, A Library

What is the opposite of air-brushed? Does it have keyboards
dredged up from some dungeon? Traces of Eraserhead dance
in the sourplum dreams of Robert Pollard and a pair of
Tobiases. While Pollard may claim to be up at the beginning
and end of this, he’s really down. But like a worn-out
cigarette, there’s still something smoldering in the doldrums.
His Bobness channels voices, warped and woofing; perhaps the
scariest Martha you’ll ever meet turns up on side two (Ms.
Stewart ain’t got nothing on her). The second side in
all its dismal, descending organs, and lunatic style
really comes across as a dark masterpiece for me. Pollard’s
pipes, even when cloaked in wolf howl and analog blitz
are commanding. His lyrics captivate and yet elude. They
get highlit by pink lasers of synth. File this with
your Residents’ records, or maybe even next to Scott
Walker’s “Tilt” skipping past the buzz rock numbers here,
which don’t really belong on a dance floor when the title
is Ataxia? Although the GbV faithful may clamor for them
(“Backwash Television”, “The Girls Will Make It Happen”
and the attached-like-a-tail “Rat Face Ballerina”).
But damn, that second side shines dark in decline!
The Glum Lie Down on Broadway?

-Thurston Slipperman

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