It’s long been clear that Matt Fanale couldn’t give a flying fuck about what genre he should fit in, whether he is industrial or not, and what musical fashion he should be following. So after a bunch of well-received albums on Crunch Pod, he’s gone it alone with this one, self-releasing it. And not to mention making it available to download cheaply, alongside a limited run of CDs with hand-assembled covers. I’m not sure what his expectation was, but the CD run sold out pretty quickly, and (legal) downloads of this have been pretty brisk, too, which perhaps says a lot for building and engaging with a fanbase, as by doing that it’s pretty clear that they may be more likely to purchase future material.
…And You Will Know Me By The Trail of Vomit
Buy from: Bandcamp
So anyway, let’s cut to the chase – what’s the album like? Well, for a start, it’s not too long – just over forty minutes – so even if you don’t like it, it’s over in not too much time. Happily enough, I do like it, though.
Let’s be clear about one thing, though – if you’ve heard previous Caustic material, don’t expect too much deviation from a now well-proven theme. It’s Matt Fanale ripping up the 21-century “industrial” rulebook, creating occasionally hard-hitting electronic music, with well-chosen samples and a whole lot of vocals with nothing too deep and meaningful (something of a breath of fresh air after all the arch-seriousness and po-facedness of oh-so-many of his contemporaries), making it clear that it’s disposable, fun, and not to be taken too seriously.
That said, opener The Saint of Fuck-Ups is Fanale making no apologies for what he does, and brings to mind the image of him as some kind of anti-Claus. There, keep that image in your head for a short while. Piss and Vinegar is him fully embracing his punk side, and making a short-and-sharp electro-punk track that simply screams that he’s doing things his way, and he really couldn’t give a shit what you think of him. And in true punk style, it’s gone before you can blink, too.
Interestingly, the straight-ish dancefloor industrial stylings of tracks like I to Id/Id to I [idiot] and Meat Market Carnivore are somewhat unremarkable – as good as they are – in comparison to the blunted hip-hoppiness of Chewing Glass At The Zoo that follows them, which is fascinating collaboration with The Vomit Arsonist. An artist I’d like to hear more of, I think.
Altered Ego 1‘s sluggish breaks, coupled with samples from Naked Lunch (the opening of which immediately brought to mind the mighty Bug Powder Dust, thanks to sharing the same opening sample), are also an intriguing diversion from 4/4 beats, while Bad Habits has a woozy, unsettling bassline with other elements of the mix that attack you from all sides, which coupled with the demon-facing nature of the lyrics, fits it perfectly.
Fanale’s long-held habit of punning other famous songs/bands continues with Appetite for Distraction, which is otherwise another straight-ish 4/4 industrial beat, with samples. He can do this in his sleep, clearly, and in some respects I’d perhaps like to see less of these near-autopilot tracks and more of the experimentation.
Speaking of which, Bueno Excellente‘s bizarre industrial sea-shanty stylings (not to mention crazy ancient film music samples) had me scratching my head, and wondering if he’d sampled Tom Waits for it. I’m assured it’s not, and that it’s actually Fanale doing the vocal himself. As for the lengthy sample that closes the second half of this intermission-esque track? Fuck knows.
Shrapnel Condition is another of those industrial-by-numbers tracks, but is made of note by the freakish vocal treatments that make Fanale sound like some cyborg from the future. Which, obviously, makes him more cyb0r than us all. Fail Better is a little bit of a shock – coming as a cross between Mr Bungle and industrial from a time before “hard dance”. The periodic flare-up of batshit insane, and furiously fast, heavily-treated metal guitar samples and pounding beats is a fucking fantastic, and entirely unexpected, way to close the main portion of the album. Although an album of Matt Fanale doing heavy-duty industrial metal would be really fucking cool. How about it, Matt?
I say the main portion, as the album closes with another aCaustic (ahem) track in the form of My Crutch. It initially seems like a throwaway track, until you listen to the lyrics, which actually detail his battle with giving up the drink, and is refreshingly honest (as have been his dealings with this on his blog).
And there’s the thing, I guess. Matt Fanale’s work has always been about having fun, about trashing pre-conceived norms of what his music is supposed to be, and this album nails both parts pretty well. Sure, he can do what you might expect perfectly well, but time and again it’s the experiments and diversions that are the bits that grab the attention, and for all his jokey self-depreciation there is a talented musician here who can turn his hand to far more than some of his supposed peers could or would ever even try to. And to that a refreshing honesty, both about himself and also in “not caring” what you might say or think about his music, and it’s hard not to be taken in by his music. Another thumbs-up from me, then.