The Eternals: Heavy International

The Eternals' (Wayne Montana on bass and keyboards, drummer Tim Mulvenna, and Damon Locks on vocals and keyboards) stylistically slippery third album is marked by two things in particular: tight bass-drum grooves and Lock's eccentric, often high-pitched vocalizing. In the absence of a lead guitar, a song like “Crime” puts the rhythm section at the forefront, and Locks' singing and the stark synth line leave ample space for the bass and drums to be heard. With synths simulating braying horns and Locks' ‘Yay-yay-yay' chant leading the charge, the wildly pumping “The Mix is So Bizarre” establishes the group's penchant for warped experimentalism early. The Chicago trio's crisp attack calls to mind Ui and its loose, polyglot dub-funk brew shares an urban-dub focus with The Agriculture artists like DJ Olive, Once11, and qpe. Before the vocals appear, the title song resembles a bolder and looser Tortoise while Locks' vocal in the spooky haunted-house dub “Remove Ya” even sounds a bit like Jim Morrison, strangely enough. In addition, there's futura funk-reggae (“Astra 3B”) and, best of all, “Patch of Blue,” a punchy fusion of new wave, funk, and dancehall. Broadening its range even more, the album gravitates towards instrumental experimentalism in its later stages, epitomized by the melodica-driven hip-hop psychedelia of “The Origin of the Heatray.” Heavy International's a tad long at one hour but a trippy and wild ride nonetheless.

January 2007