In 1994 Daniel Johns and his group Silverchair were catapulted into the mainstream by winning a demo competition in Australia. Their single ‘Tomorrow’ is still widely regarded as one of the defining songs of the early 90s. Now, before you rush out to buy The Dissociatives you’re going to want to sit down before I break this next part to you; This cd is not silverchair, it sounds nothing like silverchair, and you are only seeing comparisons because Daniel Johns is in both of these bands. It is best to keep these 2 entities separate, or you will probably end up enjoying them both a lot less.
This album is a collaboration with Australian techno king Paul Mac, the eclectic mix of poppy songwriting, eerie soundscapes, 3/4 timing and multi-layered vocals brings out the best of both members of the band. The music and songwriting is filled nearly to a breaking point with more little noises and beeps than you’d think you could digest, but somehow everything falls into its right place.
Opening with a constant 4/4 bass drum beat, the opening track ‘We’re much preferred customers’ quickly builds constantly with multi-layered vocals, sparse piano, eventually turning into a veritable electronic orchestra. From this moment on, you can tell that this is a very experimental album, created by 2 very creative musicians. While the songwriting and melodies would fit perfectly on every pop radio station, avid listeners will notice much more subtle details and nuances than the average electronic pop album.
The standout track on the album in my mind is ‘Horror with eyeballs’ a bizarre tune based around a 3/4 verse of carnival music, mixed with a poppy chorus featuring many layers of Daniel Johns singing ‘all of this time on my hands/so far has gone/ to feeding my animals’. Nonsense? I think so, but you’ll be singing it for days. While the rest of the album is very hard to categorize, each song features the same elements; Multi-layered vocals and instruments, noises, a full helping of ‘na-na-na-na’ and everything you’d expect from a pop album. I find myself rarely listening to single songs, as the album seems to flow much better as a whole.
Nearing the end of the album, the band pulls out ‘Young man, Old man’, another interesting track. Based around a guitar part, only instead of playing it only on guitar, Johns elects to sing the part as well. This is the type of abstract thinking that makes this album stand out so much in my eyes. You will have a very tough time guessing what is going to come next, and I think everyone loves music that suprises them.
The band managed to find a fantastic artist by the name of James Hackett to produce 3 videos from this album; Horror with eyeballs, Somewhere down the barrel and Young man, Old man (You ain’t better than the rest) all 3 are available for your viewing pleasure from the bands website.
It seems that most of the mainstream press is tearing this album apart, but from where I stand (about 2 feet infront of my computer monitor) this is one of the best albums released thus-far this year. If you’re looking for a solid, happy album featuring one of the best voices in rock, check this out, you won’t be disappointed.
Chris Elkjar is the founder of ‘trust. me’ an online music magazine for the enthusiast. He spends all of his spare time immersed in music, be it writing reviews, interviews with leading bands or writing his own music.
For more of his writing, check out Trust-Me.ca - Music for robots