30 November 2006

Tool: 10,000 Days

It's been a long time since I last did a record review. Who knows, I might just do it again.

But finally I did get around to listening to this, and for the two of you who read my blog who might be interested, I thought I'd reveal my thoughts on it, hopefully without boring you all too much.

For those who don't know, Tool are a prog (metal?) act from Los Angeles. They've been around for years, and their album Ænima is rightly regarded as a classic.

But that's not all. Tool are a full-blown multimedia experience.

Their videos are (mostly) fully illustrated/animated by guitarist Adam Jones and vary from stop-motion animation to straightforward marionation and animation.

Their live show is usually a colourful affair as well.

As Taj wrote in a previous comment, this particular CD has been influenced by the likes of Meshuggah and Fantomas, and certainly, they're excellent places to start if you want to get a feel for where Tool are going with this.

And while I've never really got Meshuggah, I get Fantomas.

(Don't worry, Taj. One day Meshuggah will make sense to me.)

King Crimson are another good reference point.

The first thing you have to notice about this CD is that it is encased in what has to be the greatest packaging for a CD ever. It is a cardboard pack with two lenses that operate in conjunction with the booklet as a fully-functioning stereoscope. Jones and Alex Grey were responsible for this.

(Note - Tool have refused to have this CD go out via iTunes. Not surprised - if you get this CD without the packaging, you are being seriously ripped off)

But where Lateralus caught them going in a "song" direction, 10,000 Days sees them going back in a majorly prog direction.

First track Vicarious is in 5/4 before a few time changes.

Second track Jambi has a talk-box guitar solo - yes, I also mentally envisaged Peter Frampton on The Simpsons.

You have to wonder just how good is the rhythm section of Justin Chancellor and Danny Carey as they are rock solid throughout the whole thing. In fact, Carey's drumming is superb throughout - not a single fill and paradiddle is wasted, and there are a whole stack of them.

Time changes abound all over the place. Not a single song clocks in at under seven minutes - well, a couple do, but they're there to build for actual songs.

It doesn't have the moodiness of Ænima or the Eastern feel of Lateralus, but each song makes sense in the broader context.

The whole thing builds up until the two-parter Lost keys (blame Hofmann)/Rosetta stoned which is the piece de resistance of the whole CD. Rosetta stoned steals the whole show, in fact - the climax to the tune kicks in at the 8.20 mark or thereabouts. What's that I hear - some nice programming?

Oh yes, and vocalist Maynard James Keenan is singing about a bad trip. Did Chancellor (who's British) play the doctor in Lost keys?

Unfortunately they nearly ruin this with a bolt on bit at the end. And after this, they do get moody - a bit like Lateralus' closing moments.

The programming in Intension is a nice touch as well.

You know, if they'd stopped the CD after Rosetta stoned, you'd still have a 54 minute album of amazing music, climaxing with this tune at the end.

But anyway, I'll give it 4 stars. It is a truly bloody amazing package.

4 comments:

Adam said...

Nice one Dikkii - and I'd never heard of a paradiddle until today.

How cool is the packaging? It took me a while to see it, but it's a really interesting illusion.

I'm surprised you didn't like Right In Two, and Reflections from Lateralus is one of my favourites. I freely acknowledge that I don't know dick about music though.

Can't wait for the BDO. Have you seen them live before?

Dikkii said...

G'day, Adam, thanks for dropping by.

You wrote:

I'm surprised you didn't like Right In Two, and Reflections from Lateralus is one of my favourites.

It wasn't that I don't like them. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't have given this CD 4 stars if I didn't like Right in two.

Also, I quite like Reflection from Lateralus.

It's just that I think they (Tool) figuratively blew their creative load early on this CD.

I mean, Rosetta stoned. Where the frog do you go after this? It really is a monumental tour de force.

Anything that came along on the CD after this was always going to be a let-down.

taj said...

Nice review. It doesn't surprise me that you don't get Meshuggah, they can be really quite challenging to listen to most of the time. My favourite album was Chaosphere - just the right balance of insanity and groove with good continuity of theme running through the entire record. Unfortunately later albums have been a little too ponderous for me; somewhat boring and grooveless eighth-string riffs plodding repeatedly through successive tracks. Doesn't stress me too much though - between Destroy Erase Improve and Chaosphere I don't care if they ever make another album, those two are enough for me.

Dikkii said...

Taj wrote:

My favourite album [of Meshuggah's] was Chaosphere...

I think I recall that one getting a 4 1/2 star review from Rolling Stone.

I remember them (RS) using the phrase 'math metal' in that review, too. Previously, I'd only heard you use it.