Dusted Reviews

Total Shutdown - The Album

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Total Shutdown

Album: The Album

Label: Tigerbeat6

Review date: Oct. 13, 2003

Total Shutdown features Paul Costuros on guitars, Bob Linder on horns and keyboards, Nate Denver on bass, Pete Nguyen on drums, and Matthew Hartman on alto and tenor saxophone. With the exception of Denver (presumably), none of the members play one instrument, and a large part of The Album's sounds are made by any of the following: clarinet, bass clarinet, reed pipe, harmonica, keyboards, French horn, trumpet, and/or duck call.

With names so instantly memorable and their sound making positions so diverse and even negligible, it is fitting that the music should be thoroughly confounding. At the most fundamental level of deconstruction, the band can be identified by its more-or-less hardcore punk traits: splattered drum beats complementing drenched guitar and bass only in speed. Tracks like "Six," "Dance," and "Five" are logical exhibitions of the velocity and frenzy familiar to hardcore's most basic, ragged incubations.

The band begins its conventional divergence in that every member screams, sings, or speaks, but mainly they all scream, forming awesome, thick Siren harmonies. Nate Denver provides reason number one as to why The Album is even better played loudly in headphones: his skree is just the opposite, a sub-register, ultra-guttural destruction of tone, so low you have to be listening for it. Obviously the Load Records barbershop has found itself a formidable new quintet.

What is ultimately so pleasing about Total Shutdown is that the blast beats, the overdrive-o-rama, and the layers of shrieking really are just the beginning of the band's eccentricities, and qualify, at least in spirit, as around half of The Album's pulverizing 26 minutes. Much of the space is left for achingly smart keyboard doodles, horn and woodwind stabs backed by Nguyen's skittering jazz drumming, and swollen ambient effect waves. "Letís Get Weird" sputters for over five minutes before exploding for 30 seconds then evaporating, leaving only a descending synthesizer melody. Such marginalia must not take over the heart of any page, as the band is well aware; the balance of actual ideas and (likely) spontaneous experimentation remains invigorating for most of the same reasons as the Ex-Models Zoo Psychology, Black Dice's Beaches and Canyons, and the better parts of Sonic Youth's catalog. It's at once very coherent while remaining very weird.

The Album is the year's most brutal cultural dragnet: smart, sassy, punk and modern. Way more than hardcore, definition is by no means an easy task. Jazz-core? No-core? Core-core? Let's just go with

"more-core." For now.`

By A.A. Davidson

Other Reviews of Total Shutdown



Read More

View all articles by A.A. Davidson

Find out more about Tigerbeat6

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.