Lullabye Arkestra: Ampgrave

In the absence of accompanying details, Ampgrave's opening moments could suggest the listener's in for a set of organ and string music recorded at a Montreal chapel. Don't be deceived: the grinding guitar and wailing chorus (a so-called 10-voice ‘Chorus Oblivia') that cacophonously erupts shortly thereafter in “Unite!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” represents more accurately the Lullabye Arkestra's uproarious sound in general and Ampgrave in particular. The group itself is actually a bass (Katia Taylor) and drum (Justin Small) duo augmented here by electric tenor banjo player Martin Arnold and drummer Nick Fraser with additional noise courtesy of Do Make Say Think's horn section, organist, Shelton Deverell, and violinist Jule Penner. “All I Can Give Ya” alternates reserved blues passages with massive horn-laden choruses capped by a Joplinesque wail while “Nation of Two” recalls LA band X at its most aggressive. Taylor 's fuzz bass leads the lurching charge in “Hold On” before the tune explodes into caterwauling refrains and call-and-response wailing. An occasional moment of calm stabilizes the ship (the lullaby “Come Out, Come Out”) but, more often than not, the group opts for a ferocious instrumental attack. Sounding sometimes like Red-era King Crimson hijacked to Hades, Ampgrave's lethal punk'n'roll is capable of inducing a fatal heart attack or two.

October 2006