In case you were wondering if there were any corners of popular music guaranteed to go unmined and regurgitated, Skoal Kodiak are here to help you sleep a little easier at night: Plainly stated, Kryptonym Bodiak is deeply influenced by the currently-unfashionable electronic music of the mid-to-late 1990s. (The Crystal Method, brothers both Dust and Chemical, Atari Teenage Riot, et al.) On songs like "Holidazzle" and "The Borrower," Skoal Kodiak take some cues from the last couple of Black Dice records to deconstruct and build upon the otherwise-dated drum production, filtered vocals, and siren-sounding synth tones -- and the result is much less unlistenable than you’d expect.
Like many of their Load Records labelmates (Men’s Recovery Project, Wizardzz), Skoal Kodiak have crafted a handful of annoying parts into a whole that’s annoying in an entirely different, more compelling way. If you’re not in the mood for an album like Kryptonym Bodiak, it’s liable to make you put your head through a wall. If you’re looking for panicked, trebly dance music (or if you really liked Brainiac’s more electronic material), the album will likely go down a bit smoother.
It’s true that managing to eke something worthwhile out of an influence base like Skoal Kodiak’s is basically squeezing blood from a stone, but Kryptonym Bodiak is at its best when the band relaxes and goes for something a little less block rockin’. "Tomah Triangle," the album’s highlight, is pure Witchcraft Rebellion-era Old Time Relijun, with its queasy drum/sax groove and vocals going straight for pre-Tuvan-throat-singing Arrington de Dionyso. By using dub to temper the kitsch of their more spazzy material, Skoal Kodiak are at their most successful, and it’s during moments like this that you get the feeling this band may be onto something.
At its worst, though, Kryptonym Bodiak evokes the sense of cloying irony that plagues many of today’s wackier electronic acts. Even when it’s a bit grating, Kryptonym Bodiak is a unique album, and Skoal Kodiak are a young band. It’s not difficult to see a lot of potential here, provided they can stay the course and use their powers for good instead of evil.