Wine, Women and Song are three of the Devil's playthings, says the cover and inside page of the new Porn record. I guess we could add the slide guitar and volume are two more of the Devil's playthings.
The part of the Devil will played for this review by Tim Moss, guitarist, founder and guiding force of Porn. It's really easy to cast Moss in this role, I mean, there's just something inherently creepy about all the music that he's made, whether it was with Ritual Device or The Men of Porn. Moss just exudes dark seediness, both with his voice and with his guitar sounds.
On his newest release, there is obvious veil of maleficence and sickness. This is evident before you even open the CD case. The cover is a pallid, bloated boy/cherub done in chiaroscuro style reminiscent of the old Italian masters. The painting style serves to enhance the cherub's sickly/sweaty sheen, and the fact that it's reclining in some of post-coital or heroin-induced bliss provokes deeply unsettling thoughts.
Once you've actually put the CD on, the lyrics bring overt drug references, satanic references, and much more unsettlingly, the refrain from "Last Song", during which Moss states repeatedly "I saw you looking out my window last night." This is made even lewder by the fact that the production places him behind you and leaning very close to your era while he says it.
The vocal production makes the most of Moss' somewhat limited singing ability by moving him all over the mix to alternately maximize his howling and his more personal speaking/incanting style. Devil Moss clearly ] channels the dark side, but he's also a relentless innovator and maximum volume hound, both of which are traits I admire.
His latest backing band is the all-star team of Billy Anderson on bass [and production] and Dale Crover on drums. Calling them rock solid is no hyperbole. Moss takes this behemoth [and consistently interesting] rhythm] section to the furthest reaches of space and stoner rock and then sends back twisted and plaintive missives with his nearly human sounding slide guitar howls.
"Wine, Women and Song" moves from these deep spacey jams to sharp, angular riffing with complete ease. There is a tremendous amount of ebb and flow on the whole record, with long quiet builds setting up supremely satisfying riff bashing. Throw in some great songs, stellar production and a monster rhythm section, and you have that most elusive of records, familiar enough to be easily digestible, and complex enough to listen to over and over.
In contemporary terms, this record thouches on Ufomammut, Kyuss, Jesus Lizard, Melvins and Fuckemos. In classic terms there are traces of Black Sabbath, Hawkwind and Pink Floyd. A very tasty melange indeed, all served up with super loud and heavy production destined to destroy iPod headsets the world over.
This has the hallmarks [earmarks?] of an album with tremendous staying power, it's consistently heavy and consistently interesting. So good it's sinful!
Here's a funny experiment. Find yourself a radio, the old fashioned kind that’s not connected to your computer. Turn it on and spin the dial. Where ever it lands leave it and just listen for a few minutes; ten or so should be plenty. Most likely one of two things will happen. Either you’ll quickly enter the candy coated landscape of your childhood, fondly reminiscing about old relationships, better times, and your first sexual experience or (and more likely) you’re going to be madder than hell and ready to smash things to pieces. If the latter is the case then we offer you a sounder solution than trashing your pad. “Women, Wine and Song” the latest effort by San Francisco outfit known as Porn (The Men Of) has enough destructive might packed into 50+ minutes to make up for almost any duration of pop radio exposure.
If you’re familiar with Porn, "The Men of" that is, then you’re aware that they always have guest players on tour and in the recording studio. This time out reunites brain-child Tim Moss (Ritual Device) with longtime pals Billy Anderson (far too many to list) on bass and Dale Crover (Melvins, Nirvana) on drums. Their first recordings in almost three years (though technically the true follow-up to their man’s ruin debut “American Style,”) “Women, Wine and Songs” picks up right where Tim and Co. left off.... Drifting aimlessly in the coldest reaches of space where the stars align in such a way that it almost seems pre-destined that an album could be born of equal parts Black Sabbath, Verve, and Ornette Coleman. Angry fits of rhythm section melt seamlessly into avant-Iommi jazz and back to bone crushing rawk; and that’s just the first track.
The fact is we can’t say enough good things about Porn (or enough bad things about what we hear on the radio) but don’t take our word for it. Here’s what AP said about their last album. “The Men of Porn torture metal. They chop it into pieces, run it through excruciating feedback and drag it through the dirtiest-sounding sludge they can find. They make the kind of noise that can clear a club faster than a dry keg, but for those who appreciate the sonic outer limits, MOP are an act of dark genius.” And that was just an EP.
Now the choice is up to you. You can run scared back to your precious radio la la land (commercials and all) or you can wrap your heads around “Wine, Women and Song.” The choice is simple. And if you don’t pick Porn, then maybe you’re just part of the problem.
released 26 October 2004
Tim Moss: Guitars, Pedalsteel, Effects, Vocals
Billy Anderson: Bass, Piano, Organ, Backing Vocals
Dale Crover: Drums, Tympani
Recorded and Mixed by Billy Anderson.
Produced by Tim Moss and Billy Anderson.
Mastered by Chris Goosman.
Album Design by Frank Kozik.
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