Bentmen - Immaculate Contraption
Sound Museum Records
Artist: Bentmen (www.bentmen.com)
Title: Immaculate Contraption
Label: Sound Museum Records (www.bentmen.com)
Red mutant eyes look down on Hunger City still, if this dangerous skewed
album by Boston's fanatic flairs Bentmen is any indication. Nine
other warped collage photoscapes join the pictured freaky album cover in
this nightside offering, each worthy of Riven or Myst and each depicting
an instant of death-fetishism, crowd-mongering costumery or just
plain strange-days finesse. The images are so unsettled and meticulous
and peculiar, as if drawn from outtakes of "Seven" or "The Cell," that I'm
a bit nervous slipping the disc into the waiting drawer. Bentmen isn't
one of those bands that gussies up a package to make up for musical
humdrum, is it?
No, it's not. I won't say that this record is entirely my cup of mandrake
tea, but that never stopped me from digging and gabbling with The
Residents in their Mole or Eskimo periods, and if this were a Residents CD
it would be a good one. Immaculate Contraption swaggers with the
menacing strut of Marilyn Manson minus the tasteless multimedia assault,
and roars with the kind of bellowed power you'll find in
thump-and-holler bands like New Haven's estimable Gargantua
Backed by double drums and crediting a "Crowd Agitation Officer" as well
as two guitars, bass, and vocals, Bentmen favor repetitive sloganeering
tossed on a fresh bed of mesclun distortion. The songs are political
agitations and personal vents, raging against the various machines against
which one rages. This is both a strength and a weakness; the numbers are
earnest and furious and convincing, but I wish for a grand theme against
which the band can rail for real.
Bentmen's web site hints at high theatre, dark eruptions, and wild
shenanigans during the seven-year-old band's rare live shows,
and I'm guessing that this record is best as a companion piece to a night
spent watching pandemonium in all its glory (singer Bill "Des" Desmond
once famously and accidentally set a photographer on fire with a
pyrotechnic rocket he was launching over the crowd from a helmet device
which shot a flare down instead of up; the fellow didn't mind, which tells
you how good the show had to be). This is the music, and it works. Now
I'm hungry for the spectacle. Think of it this way: where would KISS be,
without the KISS part?
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