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Forcefield - Lord of the Rings Modulator

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Artist: Forcefield

Album: Lord of the Rings Modulator

Label: Bulb

Review date: Jul. 28, 2004

Forcefield’s most recent album, Lord of the Rings Modulator, is, once again, an inexplicable, fantasy-based noise affair. They frequently evoke pop-culture conceptions of the fantasy genre in live shows, using Star Wars and now Tolkien monikers while wearing homemade felt and cloth costumes that look like the Muppets meet the Druids. After sticking to around Providence, Rhode Island for seven years, the anonymous foursome of Patootie Lobe, Meerk Puffy, Gorgon Radeo, and Le Geef were invited to play at the 2002 Whitney Biennial, which they did with characteristic outsider zeal. Their scary audio-visual room full of costumed creatures milling about to a harrowing score drove most visitors quickly on to the next room.

The whopping impediment to listening to any Forcefield disc is the length, and Lord of the Rings Modulator surpasses the 70-minute mark. With no track titles or noticeable development, listening is a slow process. The foursome's spastic hands wreak havoc on their effects knobs to tease, filter, distort and otherwise process loopy spirals of sound. Each successive riff feels as if it’s blazing a new path, but when the flight time surpasses the hour-mark, spontaneity can get old.

Though this lack of direction can become tedious, Forcefield never demand attentive listening. Put it on in the background, and let it go to work. The skitters and twisting knobs are fun to follow, as they lead from low-end static to (my favorite) the out-of-control sine wave orgasm. Lord of the Rings Modulator isn't quite J.D. Robb or Tod Dockstader, but a devilish and unpredictable sense of humor is there in force.

By Joel Calahan

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