The evil King Meldagar once ruled the village. He was viewed as a tyrant by his people, and was soon ousted. The exiled king was determined to get his revenge on the villagers. He found a new home underneath a mountain, where he set up a shop to build his army of destructive robots. His first evil robot (Gurgblah) is sent out to the village to wreak havoc on the people who overthrew him.
That's the premise of this solo recording by Joel Lee who, on his Myspace page tells that his music sounds like "Acoustic drums, electric guitar, bass and loops/drones improvising in a circular pattern... sometimes it has a mind of its own, and I go with the moment. The finished tracks are then spliced together with sound effect segues and other strange things." I think he's aptly described what Trip Lava is all about... I'm more curious as to who his target audience is, if indeed he has one, because what he's come up with is an incredibly eclectic mix of sounds to be sure but one that's sure to leave a fair number of his listeners wondering, "What the heck is this?"
Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing – what Joel's put together is 13 tracks that aurally describe the events of a fantasy story that he's documented in the accompanying liner notes so there's clearly a lot of thought and planning that has gone into creating something completely packed with unearthly sound effects, off-kilter jazz sounds, insistent drumming and a vivid mayhem that at times is actually a real riot to listen to - it's even got a manic sense of beat that's quite infectious at times, such as on 'March To Battle' where the heroic robot warrior Octatroid marches off to deal with the villainous Gurgblah.
Honestly, though, I'm not sure what to make of it – it's an incredibly busy, even frenetic, work. I imagine Joel having an absolute blast pulling all of this together – and it's certainly the most unusual album that I've ever been sent to review. If you like the idea of Can performing at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop then I think you'd have a great deal of fun with the total madness captured in its cacophony of rhythms and sounds; but I suspect you'd have to be a devotee of off-the-wall discordant anarchy to really appreciate this one. If you are, then its $5.00 for a CD or a download at CD Baby.