By Various Artists
Every track on Attack!!!! 9 is inspired by a piece of Dutch prose published in the previous issue of the accompanying Attack!!!! 'zine. Right from the start then, this isn't going to appeal to the masses, but Attack!!!! 9 should at least be applauded for trying to do something different. It's a niche product, but the people who do buy the Attack!!!! 'zines and CDs are probably obsessed with them, devour every last word, play the CD over and over and enthuse about it to anyone who'll listen. It definitely has that sort of love-or-hate appeal.
First up is Yusuf Azak and '19:19.' This song showcases an unusual vocal style, as Azak runs his words together in a hoarse whisper that's then layered to choir-like effect. There's very little backing music, but the vocals are so heavily layered that you probably won't even notice. The overall effect is unsettling, and far from easy listening but, if you like your music to be challenging, then this track will make you fall in love with Attack!!!! 9 right from the start.
Second up is instrumental 'My Heart Still Beats Wildly.' The echoey guitars and looped electronica effects give the song a cinematic quality. It sounds as though Duke Raoul are providing the score to some moody indie flick. This is a beautiful, meandering song that may lack the emotional highs of most instrumental pieces, but it oozes atmosphere all the same, and is perhaps the only track you could appreciate without any explanation of its 'zine connections.
'Walking, Crawling, Running, Falling' is a song of two halves. The first has a Stephen Hawkins-style voice dolling out cryptic advice, and works surprisingly well. However, another, cheesier electronised voice takes over in the second half and the lyrics go from intriguing to absurd, and you begin to suspect that Cagey House actually have no idea what they're talking about. The celestial sound effects give this song a similar cinematic quality to 'My Heart Still Beats Wildly,' and the images it conjures up go partway to distracting you from the irritating second-half lyrics. But only partway.
Laish's 'Awake, a Sweet Mother' initially seems set to be the most conventional track on the album, kicking off with a hypnotically-droning voice and rattling drums. However, as layer after layer of vocals are added, the song gains a buzzy edge and begins to sound more like a swarm of bees than human voices. 'Awake, a Sweet Mother' is more of an unusual sound effect than a 'song' in the conventional sense, but if you give it your full attention, the buzzy vocals suck you in like few other songs have the ability to do.
Album-closer 'Yes I Do' by Cottonmouth Rocks puts the final curve on this oddball album, blending the static of a poorly-tuned channel with hand-clapping sound effects. Frontwoman Sally's voice is hauntingly beautiful, with a perfectly-placed tremor that adds to this song's sense of vulnerability. 'Yes I Do' contrasts nicely against the complexity of much of this album, and brings Attack!!!! 9 to a fittingly unexpected conclusion.
Attack!!!! 9 is very difficult to review. If your idea of a great song is something you can discuss at length afterwards, then you'll love this. If you enjoy poetry readings, then you'll also love this. If you like music you can hum along to, then this really isn't for you. An unusual, impossible to categorise, wilfully unconventional collection that you will either fall in love with, or find the most confusing thing you've ever heard.