Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster are clearly Dick-heads.
Now, before you start getting all uppity, let me explain – fans of the visionary author Philip K. Dick are often referred to as Dick-heads. Not dickheads, but Dick-heads, okay? Not for one minute am I insinuating that this talented band about whom I know nothing, other than what I have gleaned from their press-release and web-presence, are, y’know, dickheads. Hell, I don’t even KNOW them. Nevertheless I can state, with some authority, that they ARE Dick-heads, as I am one too. It takes one to know one.
The title of the album, Exegesis, refers to Dick’s extensive journal in which he detailed his religious and visionary experiences, examining states of mind and religious symbolism which, in his latter years, strongly informed his work. Dick strongly identified with the Gnostic school of religious thought, something that ties in very neatly indeed with the other most blatantly obvious thread that runs throughout the music of Tacoma Narrow’s Bridge Disaster (or TNBD, as I shall refer to them from now on for the sake of brevity) – Tool. The DNA of those gnomic gnostic mystics runs right through to the very marrow of TNBD, wrapped tightly around their core sound like the two snakes wrapped around the staff of a caduceus.
Bar the Isis-isms, circa Oceanic, of instrumental opener ‘Fractal World’ and a touch of late, lamented British alt-progsters Oceansize to some of their more tranquil moments, tracks such as ‘Calligraphy’,’Valis’,’Sungrazer’, ‘Wake’ and ‘Exegesis’ itself exude the sound of Tool, circa Lateralus with ease – all tumbling, battering volleys of percussion, counterpointing bass, and guitars that switch between chiming, psychedelic chem-trails of sound and thick, chewy blocks of riffage – albeit with a significantly beefier, slicker tone, whereas ‘Black Iron Prison’ takes shapes from the more aggressive Tool material and ‘Going Out Like Lights On A Switchboard’ runs with the experimental approach and plangent guitar of a track such as ‘Eon Blue Apocalypse’.
The Tool influence is heavily reinforced by vocalist Dylan’s uncanny vocal resemblance to Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan, but, lest ye assume that I am merely painting TNBD as Tool copyists, or some kind of thinly-disguised tribute band, understand that what TNBD do with their sound is not mere homage or empty copying – TNBD manage to transcend their most obvious influence and avoid plagiarism by simply making it all sound so natural and unforced.
TNBD sound as though they arrived at this point organically, maybe through a deeply osmotic absorption of Tool’s music and natural ebb and flow, or maybe they just can’t help but sound this way.
It had occurred to me that perhaps my comparing TNBD to Tool may be taken a little harshly but, to be honest, it’s a pretty unavoidable fact – however, do not think for one minute that the similarities between the two bands make it hard for me to enjoy Exegesis, as that just is not the case. I admire the sound that TNBD has achieved and I admire the fact that although it is highly reminiscent of another band, this fact is not off-putting – I am able to enjoy TNBD on their own merits, which certainly goes a long way toward showing exactly how well they do what they do.
Dynamic, expansive and deeply immersive, Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster are a band with a lot to offer and, if you can get past their glaring similarity to you-know-who at times, I think you’ll find a lot to enjoy in Exegesis. Hell, you don’t even have to be a Dick-head to enjoy it…
[wp_bandcamp_player type=”album” id=”3420091770″ size=”venti” bg_color=”#FFFFFF” link_color=”#970026″]
Label: Self Released
Scribed by: Paul Robertson