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Master Musicians of Bukkake - The Visible Sign of the Invisible Order

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Artist: Master Musicians of Bukkake

Album: The Visible Sign of the Invisible Order

Label: Abduction

Review date: Mar. 30, 2005

Boasting quite possibly the kookiest name in rock, this shadowy clan from the Pacific Northwest serves up slab after slab of smoky, ceremonial folk on their debut LP. Main man John Schuller is joined by a parade of West Coast musicians, including Randall Dunn, Brad Mowen, Eyvind Kang and the deliciously named Milk N’ Cookies. From first listen, the crazed tribal chants and heady Eastern instrumentation recall Seattle’s more (in)famous Sun City Girls. Indeed, Alan Bishop and Charles Gocher guest, while the disc was released by the Girls’ Abduction imprint.

While on the surface it’s easy to dismiss these Masters’ work as mere Pacific Rim pantomime, there is far more going on here than initially meets the ear. Like the best SCG work, they meld a deep respect and studious love for traditional Eastern music with a wild-eyed wackiness that pokes fun at the same things they idolize. That knife-edge line between highbrow musicology and down-and-dirty humor has always made SCG music a tricky proposition, and the same is true here. Yet, all hypothesizing aside, The Visible Sign of the Invisible Order contains 53 minutes of music that’s often nothing short of stunning.

“Enter the Wang” – another great title – starts the disc off with a ringing melody and the deep crash of a gong. “Bukkake Sunrise” follows suit, adding field recordings of waves and crackling fire alongside soft acoustic blues licks and fluttering flute. The effect is entrancing; like a puff of opium lulling the listener further into the album’s folds.

“Yellow Bile/Desperate Grounds” and “Lucky Duck” introduce high-pitched, chanted vocals that can sound like either tuned-in spiritual exaltations or Manson family yodeling depending on the mood of the listener. “Custody’s Last Battle/Secret Wars” – one of a handful of tracks recorded at “undisclosed coastal/forested locales” – begins with rolling drums, rowdy yelps the sound of a 9mm pistol being repeatedly fired into the sky.

There are a few such maddening interludes and purposefully hard-to-swallow moments scattered throughout the disc. But in the end, the Master Musicians show their true craft by formulating their experiments into an enchanting album that never falls prey to predictability.

By Ethan Covey

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