In 2002, a number of bands decided to repudiate the bass player and carry on as a guitar and drum duo, whether it be the White Stripes, Black Keys or the Moaners. When 2004 popped up we saw success of bands who omitted the guitar player, such as Keane and Death From Above 1979. And in 2005, the Apes have come out swinging with a drummer, singer, bassist and organ. And without one lick of guitar, the band has made something so kick-ass and so loud that it is utterly flourishing. This may be the month where the Gorillaz get a lion’s share of the buzz but eyes should be cast on their fellow primates, The Apes.
Hailing from Washington, D.C., the Apes feature the hidden strengths of Amanda Kleinman, quite possibly the Jeff Beck of all organ players. She holds a unique style that would make Baba’s Mountain pair well at a ghoulish carnival on the HBO series Carnivale. Along with the motor-driven voice of Paul Weil, and the doom metal bass throb of Erik Jackson, this quartet has managed to pull off a sound on their third effort that is entitled to more razzmatazz than it will probably acquire.
“Baba’s Mount” is tantamount to being the bastard son of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” with its lethargic riffs and Weil’s mutated voice while “The Green Bus” dawns with the gallant boom of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer’s “Karn Evil 9” before it fades into a frolicsome number carried by Jeff Schmid’s lumbering Medieval Brit-prog epic drum beats. For those who fancy their cabaret shaken with an echoing bass line, be sure to look no further than the delightfulness of “No One Can Fat U.”
If you plan on throwing a Halloween party this October and can’t quite find the perfect music to play because you’ve worn out that old “Monster Mash” record, then a bulk of Baba’s Mountain will suffice as an apt substitute. “The Night Time Reaper” is chilling and mountainous as a Transylvanian fortress. “Imp Ahh” transmits some devious funky bass thuds along with the playful macabre omnipresence of an Ed Wood film, while the song altogether throbs like a broken thumb with a sweet onomatopoeic chorus.
Kleinman brandishes her pipes like the velvety coo of Astrud Gilberto on “Ornaments and Windchimes” with hooting owls and a serene dulcimer twang in the background, and on “The Minds of Mortis” with her lullaby lyrics splashed with some goblin-funk.
The designer drug crowd will adore “Can U Handle This,” which contains a spectral whistling resonance. The lyrical verse from “Who’s Left Alive” evokes the jovial sloppiness of Shane MacGowan and would make for a splendid, drunken St. Patty’s Day sing-along with Timothy Leary. “Organ Syrup” contains some bombastic theatrics and a death-metal chorus that will convince you that the band members were under the influence of some “syrup” of their own making. The organ riffs midway through will take you back to the sound of the jingles and jangles that you first heard when you were 9 years old and had just beaten The Legend of Zelda on the Nintendo Entertainment System. You will also be blown away by Jeff Schmid’s drum freak-out ending while “What We Do Best” will cause some folks to shamelessly shake their asses.
If Schmid impressed you on “Organ Syrup,” just wait until you hear “The Zookeepers Night Out” where his tribal hand drumming takes the Apes back to their native jungle habitat. Pure insanity! If you claim you can rock, then you should go out and buy this album ASAP. If you can’t get into Apes, then your ears have no balls.
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