Monday, January 03, 2005

The Other Roger Miller

First off, let me say that I am in no way a definitive authority on Mission Of Burma. Let me explain why, I bought the reissue of 'VS.' a few years ago, despite being unimpressed by both 'Academy Fight Song' and 'That's When I Reach For My Revolver' and I found it so bland I never pursued any more of their recordings. I just don't get it. I tried. I strained. I listened patiently. I tore off my outer ear and placed my naked eardrum on the speaker cone in a desperate effort to decipher whatever arcane minutia that appealed to people, and it didn't work. I couldn't lie to myself anymore, I just don't like Mission Of Burma, and cannot for the life me understand why people do. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that they suck. 'Secrets' meanders around pointlessly for about two minutes until Roger Miller finally decides to sing; and when he does, it just isn't worth it. He sounds like David Byrne after one primal scream therapy session and the shoddy backup vocals sink it. I find the production flat, the guitar sound unmemorable, and the melodies uninteresting. Don't try to sell me on their tape manipulation bullshit either, fella, 'cause I ain't buying. Chrome did the same with much more finesse and menace years before, and on 'VS.' I can't figure out what this Martin Swope guy is doing. Sure, subtlety has it's place, but when you specifically employ someone for 'Tape Manipulations, Loops, and Percussion', I want hear what the fuck the guy is manipulating, looping, and pounding. Where is this incredible, unrestrained feedback I keep hearing about? Okay 'Fun World' starts of great, like Greg Ginn trying to play Burlison, but then all that unresolved tension fizzles out and drifts into the kind of extended instrumental passage that was great on '30 Seconds Over Tokyo' but falls apart without the strong bookends, and the shitbucket chorus doesn't help any. And for the love of a God I do not believe in, let me never hear 'Einstein's Day' again.

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