#23 DEMOS by Algorillathym
Algorillathym is Blake Burbach (bass), Kalib Kliniske (vocals), Zach Schultz (guitar), Josh Thornton (drums). DEMOS was recorded at Mansion Van Buren by Thee Boy and mixed by Rugrat. Algorillathym includes members of Vanity Plate, the Juniper Drive, Echo's Answer and Mr. Dad.
Before we begin, I have to confess.
Unlike many who have written of Algorillathym, the seminal rugrat rock group of Minot, ND, I did not immediately grok the context of the band’s name. It took me many misled googles to understand my errors: while I was errantly searching for a massive portmanteau of algorithm, gorilla, & rhythm (or a reference to the social media & predictive data mining service, Algorhythm), Algorillathym’s moniker — with the crucial and oft-overlooked vowel (yes, vowel in this case) of “y” following the “th” rather than preceding it — the band's name is an allusion to Minot’s officially-titled Grandfather of Pizza, the late Al “Sammy” Gorilla, and his legendary innovation of spicing his pie sauce with a rare and unexpected herb. Likewise, the cover artwork is a reference to his technique of cutting the pizzas into large, nearly equilateral triangles with only a tiny triangle of crust inset within the border of each slice.
If you, like me, don’t tend to keep up on the local gastronomic history of Minot, you may have been inclined to pronounce trailblazing rugrat rockers as al•go•ril•uh•thim. In fact, and lucky for you, the quartet’s name is much less complex; with at least three of the four band members having an extensive background in the culinary arts, the group is honoring the lineage from which they came: rather than an overwrought mash of nouns, the name is simply an allusion to the band’s hero & his famous spice: Al Gorilla & his secret weapon, thyme. Thus, al•gorilla•thyme was born.
Algorillathym’s first recordings as a band were released this last week, presumably as an anti-celebration of DJ Trump’s national television broadcast of placing his tiny fingers on a very old & very beautiful copy of the bible, while simultaneously dribbling poopy lies out of his mouth and wiping away the excrement with a piece of paper known as literally democracy itself which was then thrown into the abyss of wind-swept carnage as if it never really existed or mattered in the first place. I say “presumably” because of the political tones of the two-song release, which are marked notably by the place of recording: Mansion Van Buren.
Everyone remembers that the eighth President of the United States, Martin Van Buren — whose more common name was Martin Van Ruin, because he ruined everything — was, and I quote here from Wikipedia, of course, “blamed for the depression of 1837”. I may be wrong, but my interpretation is that Algorillathym’s central thesis in these demos is that DJ Trump will cause not only an inevitable and devastating economic depression, but he has & will catalyze depression in the lives & minds of you, me, and everyone else, including Thee Boy. (Note: Thee Boy, who is the recordist behind Algorillathym’s demos, is the spiritual nemesis of Thee Alcatraz.)
The first track, “Welcome”, spills forth from deep chasms of the Earth: an onslaught of droning guitars, a secret drum machine bonks away in the life behind your eyes. Erotically, the acoustic drum kit enters in a post-disco malaise, tickling your walls with a tease until the two-voiced Kalib Kliniske howls the world into existence on this, the infinite bassline, the year of our lord. Truly, we have crossed the city limits into beat town. As Kliniske waggles his vocal tails, the voice that inhabits the upper octave (also known as the “Cyndi Lauper” or “Claudio Sanchez” vocal partition) sounds transfixingly desperate as it implores: “How do we know?” The answer becomes clear as the composition moves along to reveal explicit piercings on the private body parts known as high hats & bass fuzz. Clave-inspired rhythms pulse underneath the nerve endings of a post-rock, free-jazz guitar symphonette. An archangel soars over the metropolis, singing the warnings of the gods and spilling the tears of ivory jellyfish.
I am wet for Algorillathym, and I welcome that wetness.
The second & final song, “Rivers”, is definitely about Bono’s 2014 bicycle collision in which he was ripped to shreds while joy-riding through Central Park in New York City.
Central Park: one of the modern wonders of the world, a place of grand beauty where holy, wild birds stop for an oasis on their mighty pilgrimages. The percussive elements that begin “Rivers” are the sounds of bicycle wheels bending — crumpled hoops of carbon fibers tossing themselves & their riders through the air, finally falling to the ground and turning ever-slowly, clanking through the molasses pace of time that emergency moments unavoidably latch themselves into. The guitar chords that open “Rivers” are a picture of Bono, on his back before the pain sets in, staring up at the perfect, blue sky and wondering if he’ll ever sing again. “If not,” he thinks, “it’s okay. Because I have lived a beautiful life.”
The Edge, whose soul & consciousness are omniscient & omnipresent, visits Bono while he’s lying there; Kliniske’s first lines can be viewed as being sung through the narrator of The Edge: “We don’t need homes. We’d have rivers around us.” Truly, this transcendent insight from one lifelong friend to another is the essence of the spirit here. Van Buren went low, and Algorillathym got high — high up in a tangle of influences where everybody gets their fifteen seconds of fame. It’s as if “It’s My Life”-era Talk Talk, filtered through Discipline-era King Crimson, met up with, like, all those pop punk & midwest emo bands that were inspired by Jimmy Eat World & blink-182 but then got stabbed in the back by Coheed & Cambria (before they sucked haha!!) and the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s during their music video for “Maps”. It’s nice. I could for sure picture watching “Rivers” on Fuse, regardless of whether or not Bono would endorse it. Falsetto vocables, proggy pauses, a real booty-shaker — what more could you want?
Seriously, pals. “Rivers” is hot hot hot.
Algorillathym’s demos are a breath of fresh air in this new year — a year that will probably be even worse than last year. The music reminds us not to despair when we are living in our own personal Mansion Van Ruin, but instead to innovate, to reach deep inside our hearts so that we may add our own special spice to the pizza sauce that is our lifeblood. In this, there’s another meaning behind the band’s name: It’s a call to action. The pioneers of rugrat rock ask us to rise to the occasion. Meet the moment. Be the change you want to see, not only in your alchemy of herbs, but also in your window of time. It’s time, dear comrades. Time to honor the integrity of your crust. Time to bless the dancing of the mint. Time to la la la your heart anew. Today.
It’s Al Gorilla time.