Fans of Drive Like Jehu, The Blood Brothers, Pg.99, Swing Kids and the whole San Diego 31G/Gravity records scene should pay SERIOUS attention to this, the second full-length by shriekin’ Swedes Traktor. According to the bands bio on their website “the(ir) goal was to create groovy San Diego rock with lots of crazy riffs” and they have MORE than fulfilled that mandate, ridin’ that bullet-train to Vegas and then on to Piano Island, shrieking and flailing all the way, throwing in a flavour of Shellac and The Jesus Lizard too, in order to keep the mix extra-tasty.
Now, personally speaking, I’m very fond indeed of the old San Diego sound. I saw a good few of the bands from that scene play, back in the day – Spanakorzo, Swing Kids, Locust, Jenny Piccolo – and I just love the ENERGY of the music. Furious and angular, often discordant, but with such a spastic electricity and FREEDOM to it. Watching skinny guys with dyed black hair, thriftstore clothes and krishna tattoos thrashing, flailing and screaming in a frenzy over horrible guitar skronk and a drummer intent on self-destruct was something I always dug muchly, and I miss it. The thing that passes for emo/screamo now is just…………unspeakable and bears NO relation.
Traktor, thankfully, are old-school all the way (you’ll find NO ‘singing’ choruses HERE!), but with a freshness and enthusiasm that keeps ‘Lights’ from sounding like a retro exercise. Opening track ‘Lights’ LEAPS out of the speakers like a head-on collision between Swing Kids and Shellac, all taut, razor-wire guitar, adrenaline and clanking, thudding bass and drums. The pace does not let up from then on, all 13 tracks grabbing the listener by the ears and shaking him around like a rag doll in a high wind. Lest ye think it all a little one-dimensional, Traktor manage to vary the dynamics of the tracks up well enough to last the whole course of the record – from the herky-jerky riffage and echoed vocals of ‘All these Seconds’, the BBC radiophonic synth/electronic bloops and bleeps of ‘Gravity Control’ , the spacious synths of instrumental ‘The Institute Of Fine Arts’, through to the electronic drum parts of ‘Inaccurate Beat’ and the epic closer ‘We Constructed Him (Now He Speaks in Code) – at no point is the collective foot of the band off the throttle. ‘Lights’ is a taut, abrasive, overwhelming explosion of a record and I LOVE IT.
Now, the promo CD of ‘Lights’ came as a double disc, packaged with a CD copy of Traktors first LP ‘Sequence The Sequence’, which I will also give a brief mention to. Operating along similar lines to ‘Lights’, but with a rougher edge to the overall sound and an almost Black Metal feel to some of the vocals – so harsh is the shrieking. Standout tracks for this reviewer include the Wire-esque ‘Drawn Knives and Bent Knees’, the claustrophobic ‘Vultures’ and the fabulous instrumental ‘Ouvertyr’. If you’re smart enough to seek out an LP or CD copy of ‘Lights’, then I hope you’re ALSO smart enough to pick up ‘Sequence The Sequence’. I recommend them BOTH highly.This is ONE Traktor you WON’T mind being stuck behind!
Scribed by: Paul Robertson