Rollerball - "Real Hair"
(Silber Records 2003, silber 28)
Uploaded to Aural Innovations: October 2003
"Girls Hugging Trees" starts with a grand-but-forboding horn-section, then the tight rhythm section kicks into a groove and this vocal line: "The sun is blocking out the church sign today". I don't mean to be melodramatic, but I want to say that this heralds another album's worth of serious absurdist-surreal lyrical imagery and semi-depressing avant-progressive/jazz dirges. And it's great stuff.
"66 Deadhead Spies" follows with an erratic-yet-composed RIO-ish style, with awkward Henry Cow-ish time-changes, Cutler-type percussive agility, piano and freaky synth. "Starling" is a fairly dreary bit with dub-bass, brass-section, a psychotic avant-jazz meltdown and a chorus that sticks in the head, provided by one of the group's women (of which there are a few). "Mike's Hind" is the album's token psychedelic freak-out jam, similar to the last album's "Butter Fairy", but shortened - a creepy bass-line, crawling drawn-out single-note horn lines like something from Zappa's '68/'69 squonkers and grooved-out drum-fills with whispery cymbals. "Hecho En" is a slow dramatic accordion-led march with more great melodic (though never cute) femme vocals, and there's an apocalyptic theatrical feel with the lyrics refering to the land's natives and the prancing, cross-dressing, intruding white men.
"Spine Delay" starts with a quite strange and surprising hip-hop opening, though the rap is backed by tripped-out 'tronics and wacky horns. It all segues into another somber, dare-I-say, depressing dirge, this time with co-ed vox. "Bara" comes on like some crazed scary Faust freak-out, goes into soft spacey keys and another co-ed vocal proclaiming amusing, somewhat twee lines about a trans-global horn-playing couple sampling each other... then the doomy Faust bit comes on again. "Eight Inch Nun" ends it all with a super-cosmic trance bit (not refering to the electronica sub-genre) with more sustained-note trumpet, deep echoing drums, general ambience and a spittle-miked male vocal that usually makes me want to tear something or someone to bits, unfortunately. Just an arbitrary pet-peeve, I guess.
Anyway, this album grew on me like some scummy urban Portland lichen. If I were to get academic on you, I guess I might say: (leaning back in swivel-chair in an office, literary bookcase in background, fingers connected to form a triangle, bushy beard): "Rollerball... keeps the irony of their lyrics, titles and imagery in check... with the seriousness of the music itself. Could appeal to college/indie-rock people, progressive types and the freak scenes between."
For more information you can visit the Silber Records web site at: http://www.silbermedia.com.
Email Rollerball at: email@example.com.
Contact via snail mail c/o Silber Records; PO Box 18062; Raleigh, NC 27619.
Reviewed by Chuck Rosenberg