Phlimm - Caffeine Withdrawal for Experts (Ack Recordings CD-R)
I'm sure there's already been lots of songs or albums recorded throughout history with the elimination or alteration of a constant in the composer's life. I, of course, can't think of any. Well I remember reading that Mike Patton of Faith No More composed "Caffeine" during a sleep-deprivation experiment and that turned out to be a pretty good song. But the back of Phlimm (a mysterious North Carolinan entity who goes by the Bond-ish moniker A)'s CD-R states "this project was created and recorded over the first four days of a heavy caffeine withdrawal". Does that imply that, like, A intook large quantities of caffeine, then quit cold turkey and recorded the results? Or what? Who knows...apparently A's experiment took place over the course of four days, with a track devoted to each day of the test.
I was pretty sure "Caffeine Withdrawal" would move along predictably, starting out calm and getting progressively harrier but that isn't really the case despite all the tracks managing to flow together somewhat coherantly. The first track/day is titled "A Doorway" and is the disc's longest track at 11 minutes. It does start off pretty droney with a near-soothing repeated guitar line ala a Red Sparowes or Neurosis build-up but then delves into a kind of Damion Romero/Hive Mind electronic/reverb-y pulse for the remainder of the tune. Day two's "They Will Hear Me" is the wildest deviation, building around a riff so excruciatingly cheesy it sounds like it was sampled from a club scene in a movie from the Blade trilogy, replete with pseudo-industrial flecks...think of Skinny Puppy and I probably don't have to say much else. "What Keeps Your Vibrations Low?" is a weirder jam that comes off like a noisier Aphex Twin or Merzbow at his least intimidating (maybe the Maldoror collaboration with the aforementioned Patton is a safe comparison)...it's never aggressive, it's just like a series of malfunctioning electronic units firing off occasionally under the watchful guise of a person...who happens to be undergoing caffeine withdrawal? Best is saved for last on "Dream Resonance", a kind of cross-pollination between Nurse with Wound or Coil's cold electronic nighttime ambience, Schnitzler modern-day synthesizer readings and the Clockwork Orange soundtrack played out blissfully (and, again, repetitively) over the course of the album's last nine minutes. "Dream Resonance", huh...lives up to the title's imagery for sure. Kind of a strange, tranquil ending to a strange and somewhat uneven album (or EP? It's only 34 minutes).
At the end of the day the caffeine withdrawal thing, while it may have represented something more to the composer, is little more than a gimmick. It's pretty easy for the listener to imagine a similar album being recorded out of the blue, with no self-imposed deprivations or anything of that sort going on. But still, if it'll get your album listened to, then more power to you right? Sounds like Phlimm (or A) has accomplished what he's set out to do with this release and that's A-OK by me...no pun intended.