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Rose For Bohdan - Decoration Monster

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Artist: Rose For Bohdan

Album: Decoration Monster

Label: Deathbomb Arc

Review date: May. 5, 2004

When I saw Rose For Bohdan perform, no part of their set sounded anything like most of Decoration Monster. I ended up happy in both settings. Constant surprise is a great way to run an enterprise, musical or otherwise: play every moment like a trick up the sleeve.

Live, the band constructed a Books-flavored hodgepodge of pretty whimsy. Circumstance had its place; on that particular day, the drummer was unable to perform due to injury. The rest of the members seemed rattled, so they rattled back with assorted instruments (guitar and bass) and devices (drum machines, samplers, older drum machines). Conventional sounds and arrhythmia met again, and the results misted some unusual windows: this was experimental music, but the familiar noise, abrasion and chaos were curious companions to quirkiness, humor, and even sweetness. Rose For Bohdan was kind of cute — for a noise act.

Decoration Monster keeps these live-setting feelings intact all the way through, although there is difference in the actual sounds. This difference is divided between two discs: the second consists of remixes of songs from the first. The band’s music is all-over-the-place as is, so both sides of the disc-divide are weird, many times-removed cousins of IDM, early hip-hop, and, well, preschool-era children’s music. On “Dinosaur Demon,” the attributed members, Grace Lee and Brian Miller, follow a metronomic stick-click with their speak/sing, (often) mumbling: “Dinosaurs are walking…” over and over.

Simple and somehow serious, Rose for Bohdan’s magic is textural. Wordless compositions like “Unusable Signal” and “Eternity Is Now” reveal huge pallettes of sound, from data-entry sputters to swelling Wolfenstein 3D atmospherics. At their best, the group sounds like they are always about to turn a corner in a dark hallway: unpredictability at its finest.

Disc two removes most of the suspense, but heightens the fun, mutating anomalies into 4/4 dance remixes or lengthy IDM experiments. Pho remixes “Suki Soul,” adding a breakbeat over the existent piano-and-drone. It sounds good, as does the very-Anticon-sounding Wio remix “Bumming Herd” (a redo of “Humming Bird”), and the hazy 30 second noise-for-the-bar-rock-scene Cock E.S.P. revision of “Cripple Jellyfish.”

The double-album’s unifier might be its unfriendliness toward easy summary. Calling Rose For Bohdan collage-rock is fair, but not quite accurate; collage-hop might mislead a little, too. As a jambalaya of sound, Decoration Monster works, establishing happy order from a many-flavored aural soup.

By A.A. Davidson

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