A friend of mine who’s a musician goes by the performance name ‘Machinelovers’ the connotations of which remain elusive. I don’t know if it means machines who are lovers or people who are lovers of machines and he won’t say either way. But he’s a fan of the Transformers movie so there’s that. A name like Videohippos confuses me in the same way, mostly because I’m easily confused and wouldn’t have it any other way. Are these hippos on video? Are they all about big technology? If it were Hippovideo it would be clearer, maybe. Definitely Videohippos, from Baltimore aka Wham City, are big on technology. They make jovial, acidic, electronically distressed music that leaks laser-fluid all over everything. There’s even a song called “Laser Jet” on their debut. (There’s one called “Kool Shades” too, but anyway…) Klaxons fans, damn your pistachio hoodies, get on this record. Oh, it’s called Unbeast The Leash and it’s less than half an hour long. Which is like, really short.
Unbeast The Leash combines elements of noise, even though it’s not a loud record, and techno, even though it’s not very dancey. Wait, that sounds boring, and it isn’t. Basically Jim Triplett’s vocals, while shredded and incoherent most of the time, don’t involve a lot of scream and jitter while the live beats don’t necessarily key off the kick drum. Triplett is very intrigued by soundscapes and goes to a lot of trouble to incorporate his voice as just another ingredient next to the 6-string or shiny toy guitar or whatever. The other hippo, Kevin O’Meare, sings as well although it’s not clear who’s whom. O’Meare builds his drum sound out of the same welter of confusion. It often sounds like he’s playing multiple kits at once, which I’m fairly positive isn’t the case.
“Wages Of Fear” which may or may not be a reference to the classic film, is the album’s nominal pop song. It doesn’t have lyrics but brings it with a new wave guitar sound. “Bear Fight,” which Dwight Schrute would surely love, gets by with shivers of uneasy vocals and what sounds like a very complicated horn part, like a less-moronic Japanther. “The List” sounds like someone took ‘Rebellion (Lies)’ and remixed it with a Talkboy and some seashells. Fun, no?
Videohippos perform onstage with lots of video art, both of the home-movie and pop culture variety, and I suspect the album gains something with the show. As it is Unbeast The Leash basically counts as animation music, all retro design and futuristic flummoxes. It moves in bright colors, even if you can’t see them.
Archers Of Loaf – Icky Mettle
Japanther – Master Of Pigeons
Klaxons – Myths Of The Near Future