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Condor - A Big One

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Artist: Condor

Album: A Big One

Label: Narnack

Review date: Sep. 22, 2003

As post-punk bands litter the new music bin in every record store in 2003, where new offerings teemingly abound like sea monkeys, one has to beg the question: can there be too much of a good thing? The cultural environment that lent itself to the "revival" of rock to the average youth consumer in the last few years has, accordingly, now overproduced to a visible point of collapse. Along with the usual benefits that come with pushing up into the mainstream, the rock underground suffers equally from an influx of mediocrity and fellow travelers. So, you knew that already, right?

Into this world comes Condor, off the San Francisco slide into the ears of a not-so discerning public. At first glance, the band seemingly fits the mold that is currently sweeping the mid-level rock circuit: bass, synths, drums. One female. Denim jackets optional. But, upon closer inspection, the way out of the post-rock conundrum (should we start using the word quagmire yet?) can be seen within Condor's dark and nerdy rhythms. A Big One bristles with past innovations and genre spelunking.

Thankfully, Condor has traded in the simple disco bell of its contemporaries and opted for the more plodding space attack that is currently unused by bands which play songs clocking in under three minutes. With our current crop of post-punk bands now competing basically on beats and hooks alone, innovation occurs elsewhere. While the recording falls short of inspiring a laser light show, Condor somehow blends the now acceptable sounds of post-punk with fresh direction. There are few bands around which sound like a mix of The Fall, The B-52s, Joy Division, and Hawkwind. And, hey, let's throw Der Plan in there for the nerds.

The centerpiece of the album occurs in the middle, a four-minute opus entitled "Delay" which sounds ably matched to any space ritual this writer is aware of. Synth jockey Kurt Keppler deftly places it on the astral plane while Wendy Farina (ex-Towel) attacks the drums with a temerity that usually is accompanied with a mustache. Sure, there are some soft spots, but Condor shows that the moebius strip of post-punk feeding off of itself can be broken. Hopefully like stalwarts and contemporaries Oneida, Erase Errata, and Lightning Bolt, Condor can only get better in the face of mediocrity.

P.S. This writer, upon witnessing a live Condor show, inquired about the band's blatant attempt to combine space rock with post-punk, to which they replied that they had never even heard of Hawkwind.

By Kevan Harris

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