Saturday, April 30, 2011

P&J 2010 (One and Done): Captain Ahab, "The End of Irony"

30 points, t-365, voted on by Brian Miller

This was not what I was expecting. Judging by the title, and having never heard of Captain Ahab beforehand, I imagined an underground hip-hop artist and heavy handed commentary about a boring (in a musical context) subject like the ubiquity of 21st century media. Then I read a description somewhere that characterized it as "electro" or "synth pop" or something similarly benign. Too bad I didn't see Joe Hemmerling's review for Tiny Mix Tapes, which nicely captures the album's schizophrenic bluster. Then again, I think it was better that I wasn't prepared for this, because surprises like these are welcome sometimes.

"The End of Irony" can't decide what kind of album it's supposed to be, but it starts out with three minutes of savage, scorching rhythmic noise and frankly speaking, a lot of electronic albums could benefit from having a few minutes of rhythmic noise tacked onto the start. The second track, "Godlike", more closely resembles an 80's synth throwback, that is, if your idea of an 80's synth throwback is KMFDM, not A Flock of Seagulls. KMFDM also recorded an eight minute song called "Godlike" ... coincidence? Judging by the militaristic chanting on the third track, "The Calm Before the Sword (Club Mix)", I'm going to say no.

"Death to False Techno" is a nearly intolerable six minutes of pogoing speed trance, but sometimes it's difficult to know when Captain Ahab are taking the piss so maybe the joke's on me. "Acting Hard" is a passable homage to Nitzer Ebb in the 80's, and "I Don't Have a Dick" is a hilarious, rollicking, piano-led club number about ... well, take a guess (here's a hint: "I get the finest ass in the world/The kids line up just to smell my sweat/I can fuck a hundred people at once/'Cause I can make you come with my EYES").

Even at just over 50 minutes, "The End of Irony" is a bit too long. In the album's second half, the freakazoid jokes and weird chants become tiresome, and I think it'd be a stronger album if they'd gone the route of the sleek, 35-40 minute album and dumped a couple of tracks. Maybe Captain Ahab like being labeled as techno punks who pay homage to the electronic, rave, and EBM music that they love by ripping the blood and guts out of the music and blowing it up into an even more cartoon-y version of its original self. However, I think they're better when they're trying to be sound creators than punks, and the first half of the album really shows that.

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