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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Diablo Swing Orchestra - Pandora's Piñata review

Year : 2012
Genre : avant-garde, experimental, jazz, tropical, metal, swing, opera
Label : Candlelight Records
Origin : Sweden
Rating : 6.5 / 10

Buy it now

Introductory note : this review was written by a latex gimp who had no information and related awareness of the existence of the Devil Swing Orchestra whatsoever, and, as such, this here criticism below of said ensemble's latest delivery primarily is constructed on the highly false assumption that DSO is a commercially engineered band that just popped into existence under the Sun to bank in on current experimental trends, which obviously is not the case at all, at all. While the review remains in the form it was originally shaped into as by he gimp, the reading of the comments to the article is highly recommended for the full experience.

SPECIAL!! Discount is applied to a wide selection of tools you can hit the gimp with! SPECIAL!!

With its latest delivery to date, Diablo Swing Orchestra emerges to claim a piece of the cake that is conceptualized and grandiosely realized by Canada's Unexpect, ALAS!, the tremendous intent behind this particular record represents a fuel tank of relevantly tamer full capacity than that of its focal inspirator. Do you think that it is unfair to compare this disc to Unexpect's Fables of a Sleepless Empire? Then kindly, take a look at the track titles, I'm begging you : Unexpect : Unsolved Ideas of a Distorted Guest. Diablo Swing Orchestra : The Exit Strategy of a Wrecking Ball. Cool, huh? Mine will be : The Parallel Lamentations of an Entangled Gas Giant. Look for it here, later on.

DSO's latest is a commercially engineered market-reaction to linked Canadian release in the sense that it shows mixed results - from stellar to tepid agony - at bringing you the rampant consistency that is necessarily "expectable", given its experimental, rabid opening tendencies. Do not judge a book by its cover. The fabric of this full length shows quite a few spots which on it loses all origin of steam and evident elegance it had earlier, and, while I realize that it is not a mandatory expectation to be steamrolled all the way through, I personally still tend to think that this kind of music looks best when it does that, anyway. Can't handle it anymore? Give it a thorough rest and come back with a fresh set of ears to be blown away again. Pretty pretty pretty please with strawberry syrup and chocolate confetti on top, don't try to serve me out with ball-lacking headvoice man-singing about your stock-emotional torments after a superb song just to deviate from a much more relevant narrative ethos, I'm begging you. Notice : this temper of music, when it reigns in its relentless premiere juggernaught-form, is only one story under technical death metal in its aggression, and not at all under it when scrutinized from the aspect of super-complexity.

As such, without further introductory sentiments I'm going to tell you right away that I think this release, with a set of mildly but steadily distorted ambitions-, a non-proper concept of its own functions and some non-tasteful genre incorporation - more on those in a second - weighs in as a tolerable disappointment. Not that there is any other kind of disappointment, in the long run. Read on to find out more about this legendarily overdirected and overambitious album that wants to be twice as relevant as it ever had the promise to.

The disc starts out superstrongly, with a rendition of Bertold Brechtian thrills and glooms in an evil swing Mac The Knife/Tiger Lillies register, intoxicated even more by Mr. Bungle's psychedelic circus vibe, and add beefed up metal pleasantries - like gargantuan rhythm guitars and rhythm guitars-gargantuan - to make it a whole experience of legitimate, top of the heat sonic hilarity. Had the album bring this form and efficiency/elegance of music all the way through, I would be vastly impressed by it. Unfortunately, the case herein is not such at all, - 75% of work = opening track, 25% of work = rest of the album, hell, yeah, I'm in douché mode - as the disc exhibits persistent propensity to slow down after the opening track, first "entertaining you" with overwritten-, over-instrumentalized retroid cuban-jazz quasi-nonsense "Guerrila Laments", then, with "Kevlar Sweethearts". Herein, the first tint of profound/elegant gloom is revealed, and this is the moment by which the Unexpect affectation becomes evident, in my opinion. This song also marks the moment on which the "Desperado" vibe of the musical developments showcase its presence for the first time. From this point on, Speedy Gonzales always sits on your shoulder armed with a trumpet. Do you want a tazer with that? Once again, the lead female singing reeks Unexpect - only the Canadians maintain the right to tear your mind out any second, -  and they do - while this track maintains the right to turn you into a bull in the center of an arena. Hell, this does not look good at all. The hook of the song is on the trail of shameless effect crave, reeking so smarmy tendencies that those make Nightwish produce a red face in embarrassment.

Black Box Messiah brings the fray up to a decent intensity for two and a half minutes again, then, during the next track, the renowned "Exit Strategy of a Wrecking Ball", - see related Bruce Springsteen solo album herein - a guy sings emotionally about his sexually transferred disease, at least it sounds to me like that. Nah, in reality he sings about : "I came to erase you." Wow. OK. The song shows signs - this is not written by me, by the way - top tier mid-tempo promises in its structure, - minus obtrusive-ornamentic genre-affectation - with an especially strong endgame to it, and believe me when I say to you that it does not make me happy at all that it is the endsequence of the song that I have to compliment. Other than that, the various genre-antics that litter its fabric without legitimate function to them, are degrading the overall landscape of the music, in my opinion. And yes, I'm not too anxious to hear the male lead singing again, as it conveys nothing but STD to me. This is a related mindhack.

There are Opera songs on the disc, too, but I can't offer an opinion on those, because, once the lead opera singer lady starts to declare, my body hits the floor and starts to spazz violently, and returns back to normal only when the song is over. So, sorry about that. Now, seriously : the incorporation of opera is a narcissistic overkill in my opinion, and I indeed can't listen to it for more than five seconds. It's an act of appreciation-seeking. As result of this, it won't get anything else than tame disdain and stoic resistance from me. Diablo Swing Orchestra's "Aurora" is the most disturbing song of the year so far for me, and you'll need to PayPal me 5 USD each time you want proof that I have successfully listened to the track all the way through.

Well, there are some more statements on the disc, but it does not really get all that much - if any - better throughout them, I'm afraid. The opera element, unfortunately is prolonged unto the remaining disc-proceedings,  and I recall I could not listen to the very last song all the way through, either, as I got drowned twice in the middle of it. I understand where this record is coming from via its premiere intentions, and I realize that there is an audience that finds the overall results superb, but I think they are in delusion and failing to notice that they are being led by their noses by a vastly inferior copycat band of Canadian Unexpect. Unexpect's Fables of a Sleepless Empire eats this release any minute of the day without ever needing to adjust the posture of either. Diablo Swing Orchestra - Pandora's Vaseline Basin : The epitome of overdirected experimental "meh".

Except for the stupendous opening track.

Rating : 6.5 / 10

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  1. I'm all cool with your opinion and not liking the album very much, but seriously, you called them an Unexpect copycat? I mean, I love both bands a lot, and have been listening to both of their music for a while and I know for a FACT that they're both ridiculously different bands, I mean, it's not opinion at all.. It's fact.

    Fables of the Sleepless Empire is a pretty amazing album though, and I do enjoy Unexpect's music a lot more though. Still, I enjoyed Pandora's Pinata a lot.

  2. You could have saved yourself about 3 paragraphs by just stating what you didn't like about this album. And don't try to be so intellectual here. Be straight forward. by the time you got to the actual album itself I stopped giving a fuck about you said because you are so tedious.

    As for DSO. I like what I've heard on this album and I'm pretty new to them. I like they've incorporated genres like the samba or swing to metal. It's refreshing.

  3. @ [€rebUs] aka Leroy : Of course they are different bands. Yes, it even is a FACT that they are different bands. I still claim though that DSO seeks to create the music Unexpect is the premiere deliverer of, but, they want the same diadem for half of the effort. The first song is tremendous, and reeks Unexpect in nature. From then on, the album is a downslide in my opinion, both in its intensity and quality.

    @Rob Liz : judging by the overall tone of your comment, if I'd try to be "so intellectual", you'd fail to pick up on it.

  4. Hmm, this is a funny old review. DSO's crime seems to be they actually write tunes and melodies that heaven forfend people might actually enjoy and want to listen to. This review smacks of " this is my little band or genre and the moment it becomes popular or someone outside the genre likes it too it loses it's worth just because someone other than myself likes it" What puts DSO a league above other bands is they write great tunes whilst playing as hard and extreme as anyone else, they have a sense of humour, they are great musicians and play with conviction. I was brought up listening to punk, metal and prog and DSO are the only band in the last 10 years that I have felt motivated enough to travel some distance to see and hopefully will do so again. Laughable too is the premise that Unexpect are the fount of dark prog. Van der Graaf Generator as I recall cornered the market in that 40 years ago.

  5. @squarebear : No. Your start-off notions - and all the other ones, pretty much - are only the sum of things of what you wish/need to think when you see your band preference not receiving the immediate praise you think they deserve at face value each time they emerge to declare.

    Your evaluation of the angle/mindset you suspect the review was written in does not reflect any of the actual variants of those though, of course. I don't have any "this is my little bands", do you? And I especially has none of the mindset you imply. The mindset that seeks to punish its preference if and when the preference takes the liberty to be enjoyed by others, too. You accusing me with this ridiculous notion seems to satisfy an agenda to shoot this thought out in the open, no matter what, but you attaching me to it IS what is laughable.

    I disagree with what you already seem to have decided about this band so you can present those as alleged facts regarding them. This is my very first experience with this squad, and, to me, their latest to date album does not sound top of the heat in this niche. I would gladly say so if it would, why would't I?

    I wasn't aware of Van der Graaf Generator, thanks for mentioning them.

  6. Well, it's fairly obvious you haven't listened to the band's previous stuff or you'd know that this is obviously not a "commercially engineered market-reaction" to Fables because DSO have been writing stuff like this for years.
    And this:
    "this temper of music, when it reigns in its relentless premiere juggernaught-form, is only one story under technical death metal in its aggression, and not at all under it when scrutinized from the aspect of super-complexity."
    If you're looking to DSO for aggression and super-complexity then of course you'll be disappointed. Because you're looking for Unexpect; different band man. Unexpect does that stuff and well; the aggression, the high technical skill and complexity all with a sort of erratic jarring that somehow works and is awesome. But DSO is not that. DSO is a lot more light-hearted, with less emphasis on technical skill and complexity and more on overall composition and melody.

    Admittedly this album is not quite as good as their previous efforts. If the opening track is to your liking I suggest you try A Tap Dancer's Dilemma from Sing Along Songs for the Damned and Delirious.

  7. @ JRRRRRRR : Thanks for your non-flammatory comment. You have solid points which seem to put my historic deficits relating to DSO into perspective, as I never knew about this band prior this Thursday. I feel that this needs to be pointed out in the review, too, so I will do that. Good points on them being light-hearted at nature, it's just the shape of the light-hearted music on the disc that fails to convince me that much. Even you say the disc is a less successful attempt than their previous full length effort. Thanks for the recommendation! The title shows immediate promise!

    1. I hope you like it!
      I will admit of course that there are similarities. Unexpect was recommended to me on the basis that it sounded like DSO, and my immediate reaction to it was "this is like DSO on crack". But that's just because DSO was the closest thing I had to compare it to, and by the time I got through In a Flesh Aqarium it was evident that I was dealing with two very different beasts.
      Anyway, whether you decide you like DSO or not isn't my concern, but my hope is that you'll judge them on their own merits rather than Unexpect's.

      (I'll also confess that my first draft of that post was a little more antagonistic, but I figured a more diplomatic approach would yield better results...)

    2. @ JRRRRRRR : Nice to see such a mindset at work. I will be less antagonistic and more open minded with the consecutive DSO release, now having a firmer grasp of their history and musical agenda, knowing they never had and have no intention to copy.

      I still sense some imminent asskicks in the air nearby nevertheless that not yet have decided to unleash or not. Oh dear. As I often say, art is superior to the miserable critic. There is one piece of art, and there are an infinite number of opinions of it. While mine is not more proper or truer than any other, bear in mind that my wish always is to be impressed by the music I review. I never review to hurt. With this out of the way I further wish to add for the information of the imminent asskicks that might be lurking by that I, too, wanted this DSO release to be good. I simply think it did not work out that way this time.

      (That much.)

      [At all.]

  8. It is true that everyone is entitled to their own opinion as music is a very subjective thing. If DSO have a problem it is that the first album "The Butchers Ballroom" is such a classic whatever comes after is going to be hard to match, though to me the last two cds are pretty close. I have no wish to antagonize the reviewer but to me DSO are worth more than what is written about them in the piece. I am only commenting because if this is the only thing that someone with a casual interest read about them they'd likely miss out on a great band, which would be a shame.

  9. @squarebear : indeed it would be. As I said and promised in my previous comment, I will be less antagonistic with this band in the context of their next outing, now knowing they had and have no intention to copy recent trends. Thank you guys for your comments, they have made the review more complete.

  10. BEFORE you do a review, you must investigate and listen ALL the albums. You talk for pleasure, but not for knowing. like JRRRRRRR said, if you listen all of their albums, you will know the style of DSO, and its stands the same.
    by the way, sorry for my lousy english, i'm from Argentina.

  11. @nayla : what you say and claim as a necessary requirement to write a review, indeed is the most competent basis for one, yet one should be allowed to offer an opinion even without THAT particular basis, risking to get his ass kicked around a bit. I have no prior knowledge whatsoever of 90% of the bands I review, and, if this is something that makes me a non-competent reviewer in your eyes, I shall accept that, and I do. And I won't pretend that "hey, I know the workings of every bands I review", because, as stated, I do not, 90% of the time.

    This circumstance indeed prevents me from claiming myself to be a top tier knower of the catalog of the given band, it also offers me the benefit of the virgo ears, so to speak, as I have no expectation whatsoever towards a new band, 90% of the time. In the remaining 10%, my awareness history of a band/performer is noted. For example, I've expected Slash to surprise me musically, and he comes forth with music from 1988, ohwell.

    Also notice the following : had I love this DSO release top to bottom, I'm sure the review would have received silent consensus approval and much less-, if any defending comments. I think that the article is beneficial in the sense that, courtesy of the comments, it stimulates interest in the band's earlier workings, which, according to said aficionados above, are even more ripe contributions than this particular album.

    Thank you for your comment, your English is not as grim as it would be if it were twice as grim as it actually is.

  12. I just noticed some notions about the

    <- drum roll ->

    dreaded subjectivity of music.

    I think music actually is less subjective than most people seem to think. If you are super-enthusiastic about a track/album, it should be expectable that you can - by any means - "express" what you like about it, and not necessarily "just by" words, and similarly you should be at least WILLING to express your qualms relating to a music.

    In my experience, when a random person, for example says : "bah, I respect the Meshuggah members as musicians but their music is just way too thiiiiiis and way to thaaaaat for me", they absolutely have no clue what they are talking about, - meaning : never actually listened to the songs - but they seem to think that admitting that would make them look less versatile in their tastes and less "competent" as human beings. So they are OK offering a supershallow "opinion" that lacks true validity.

    My take and related thought of the matter is this : talk SERIOUSLY about the music, or : DON'T at all. Subjectivity of music? My ass.


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