Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Pitchfork reviews Fatal Flying Guilloteens' "Quantum Fucking!"

huge thanks to Stuart Berman and the entire Pitchfork staff!

Fatal Flying Guilloteens
Quantum Fucking
[Frenchkiss; 2007]
Rating: 7.5

When Fatal Flying Guilloteens first oozed out of the Houston underground back at the turn of the decade, they were but one of a new breed of American indie rock bands taking on a simple but noble mission: to make the records that the Jesus Lizard, Butthole Surfers, and Drive Like Jehu had ceased to. But now with their contemporaries having gone prog (...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead), broken up (the Blood Brothers), become more huggable (Les Savy Fav), or withered on the major-label vine (Rye Coalition), the Fatal Flying Guilloteens must feel a lot like Will Smith in I Am Legend: The last of the post-millennial pig-fuckers. In this sense, the mock cowboy get-ups that marked the band's early performances seem less a cheeky nod to their Texan roots and more a prescient signifier of the band's outlaw status.

But it's not as if this state of affairs has sullied their spirit. Quantum Fucking is the Guilloteens' first full-length in four years, but they've hardly spent this extended absence rethinking or refining their aesthetic. The Guilloteens still sound every bit as greasy and gruesome as they did back on 2001's Now Hustle for New Diaboliks, and, at this point in the game, it's safe to say this band is genetically incapable of writing a linear, palatable melody that'll pique A&R interest. But what makes them a band worth embracing is that they take a genre not exactly known for its crowd-pleasing approachability-- post-hardcore math-rock-- and make it feel like the most natural choice of party music.

So between the bruising basslines, the bee-swarm guitar discord, epileptic drum spasms and bastardized blues riffs (you can take the boys out of Texas), you hear the sound of joy: the revved-up Rocket From the Crypt chorus of "Hello, Boss!!!", the excitable holler-and-response between vocalists Mike and Shawn Guilloteen (the former playing David Yow to the latter's Rick Froberg) on "Chart", the contorted Led Zep crunge-funk of "Great Apes", not to mention perhaps the best Yes joke ("Long Distance Reacharound") since The Germs butchered the intro to "Roundabout" on No God. Quantum Fucking's 12 songs convulse through enough abrupt structural shifts and false stops to make the track designations seem almost arbitrary, the between-song gaps feeling more like necessary breathers than markers distinguishing two separate compositions. But it's all part of an ideology where brevity increases the severity-- by confining their missives to brief two-minute bursts, the Fatal Flying Guilloteens ensure that your ass is sufficiently kicked before their heads go too far up their own.

-Stuart Berman