Label: We Are Free Release date: 15/06/10 Link: Official Site Buy: Amazon Oh Houston, you have been an oasis for avant-garde since the olden days! How to thank you for your contributions? The Red Krayola! Jana Hunter! Hell, even Richard Ramirez (the noise artist, not the killer) has some good stuff (check his collab with Merzbow). And when Swarm Of Angels stopped being Swarm Of Angels and somehow changed into Indian Jewelry, Houston noise seemed to take a nice turn. I mean, Free Gold! was a superb album in my opinion, a nice combination of high and low end with mid-fi and clever use of drone and dark ambient tendencies. So when Totaled presents a new take on the “Indian Jewelry Sound,” the cold water shock quickly gives way to surprising amounts of dullness from a band that has the ability to change styles in a millisecond. Now, most the times I expect something a little more…shall we say outré than the immediate shock of ‘Oceans.’ The opener is a song that sounds like darkwave interpretations of a mellowed out APTBS? Down! But the thick low end and quickly seems to wallow in the territory of much worse acts like Salem, even on songs like ‘Vision’ where The Pod era Ween collides with Bauhaus. Even during their most anti-rock moments they seem to be channelling other acts a bit too much. ‘Parlous Siege and Chapel’ is a mix of the now typical throb and vocals that sound lifted from Blue Corpse before being run through a distortion and delay, turning what should have been an album centrepiece into a dull repetitious mess that really does seem to be an attempt at creating a Jandek remix without Jandek (sorry, the Your Other Men single already did that with the Corwood Representative’s sanction). I guess the issue here is that Indian Jewelry just seem to be happy with treading middle ground or venturing into areas that seem to have been covered already. ‘Heaven’s World Destroyer’ sounds like a different take of ‘Overdrive’ from Free Gold! if channelled through a light fever haze. Moments where catharsis could and should have been placed or implied like ‘Touching the Roof of the Sun’ are instead dominated by meandering jam and undefined drones that would better serve other moments or, I don’t know, warrant lyrics. As frustrating as it is to see forty one minutes almost wasted, there are moments like ‘Lapis Lazuli’ and ‘Tono Bungay’ that imply Indian Jewelry’s own change of sound and phase aren’t completely lost or without merit. The first four songs are perfectly decent, but the entire thing just seems a little half-baked and unedited. I’m not totally turned off by Totaled, just a little disheartened that a chance seems to have been squandered. Photobucket