Welcome to my review of Vanquisher, in which I use the word “titular” and the phrase “…had been written by Jason Voorhees”. It was partly written based on a version of this album from an alternate reality. Want to know more? Read on!
They say, “it takes all sorts to make a World”, but they are wrong. There are only two sorts, Normal People and The Others.
Normal People enjoy deejay banter on the radio. Popular music is predominantly an aural backdrop. Normal People habitually settle down to a bit of relaxing weekend telly with Bruce Winkleman’s Saturday Cake Voice-off Celebrity Love-Expert. It will form the basis of their work-based small-talk until the following Wednesday. They are probably happy. Their brains probably don’t cause them any trouble. These are the lucky ones.
The Others twitch a lot. They can’t keep still. Their brains are nothing BUT trouble. They rapidly bounce their legs up and down like hyperactive amphetamine addicts when they should be sitting still and watching telly. They annoy the shit out of Normal People. Some of the latter people are musicians. Their music jumps out of the speakers, creeps up loudly behind you and twists the hemispheres of your brain around your medulla oblongata, like someone preparing one of those awful green waxy pear thingies around the big stone that lives inside. I like The Bob Lazar Story. They may be The Others. They seem to make music for The Others. Just saying.
Anyway, Bob Lazar is an American “physicist”. He reverse-engineered extraterrestrial technology at a site called S-4, located, not as we all suspect, in Arizona, but several kilometres south of the secret actual location of the top-secret Area 51 secret facility, 14 Church St, Basingstoke RG21 7QH, telephone 01256 335511, open between 10:15am and 4:45pm. I found it on Google Maps. Keep that to yourself. It’s secret.
The band has two core members; Mr. Matt Deacon, “perfectly mediocre” guitarist, Englishist, music theorist and Martial Artistist, and Mr. Chris Jago, drummist and lead electric New Zealandist. I’m not sure which one of them is really Bob “Robert” Lazar – perhaps neither is, but this can’t be just another clever name.
Vanquisher follows 2017’s critically acclaimed Baritonia, and is The Bob Lazar Story’s second with Bad Elephant Music. It is the seventh release to date, reviews of some of the previous releases can be found Here, Here and Here.
Vanquisher has been described, helpfully, as “containing some”, “contrasted with” and not “too orangey”. Not my words, the words of Mr. Deacon, no less.
The press release references track 9, Is This Foodstool?, as part of a chronicle of adventures, “much to the delight of all fans of conceptual continuity”. Recurring musical themes? Conceptual music? Is it prog? You bet your juicy purple plums people will call it prog. But Vanquisher contains many musical styles that might belong in many disparate genres. For example, one version of Eyes Only that I heard when I was originally sent the files from which I started my review, is roughly thirteen seconds of pure College Rock, which quickly segues into the album’s title track. It is probably the only thing on the album that would have resembled that genre, but it illustrated how varied TBLS can be. It reminded me of a song by New Zealand band The Church, or perhaps REM, had The Church/REM been fronted by an alternate reality version of Jason Voorhees with an attention deficit disorder restricting his ability to play a riff for more than two bars. Unfortunately, this is only now relevant in that it highlights the diversity of musical styles, as it is absent from this reality’s version, which starts with awesome drums and segues into the titular track, Vanquisher. But you get the point: diverse and quirky.
Talking of drumming, Mr. Jago’s drumming is awesome, as is the musicianship throughout. Supplemented by Fud, known for playing 10-string bass, and Jacob Petrossian of the Christchurch, NZ metal band Awakened, Mr. Deacon is himself no axe slouch, clearly capable of playing any style. He will seamlessly jump into a blues-rock riff just long enough to lull you into a false sense of security – as if channelling Pink Floyd, only if David Gilmore wore a hockey goalie mask and carried a machete. Then he’ll jump into another style.
The simplistic approach to the choice of instrumentation belies the complexity of the composition and execution. This makes the music mildly but delightfully confusing. The last time I was as mildly confused by where a piece of music was going was when I heard The Lost Crowns album Every Night Something Happens for the first time. I say, “mildly confused…”
I suspect that The Bob Lazar Story’s hidden agenda is to make music with which the listener must engage, as test subjects, in some form of experiment. One of the songs is less than twenty seconds long. This quite possibly resets the listener’s tolerance chip. Further to such a reset, Song 2 by Blur would seem like Wagner’s Ring Cycle, had Wagner actually been Jason Voorhees. (Nobody has ever seen Jason Voorhees and Wilhelm Richard Wagner in the same place at the same time. Ponder that.) What is now perceived as an epic, albeit a five minute and thirty-one-second epic, Operation Full Klinger exposes the test subject… I mean listener… to almost three minutes of synthesised Whirly Tubes. Operation Full Klinger is to The Bob Lazar Story as Supper’s Ready is to Genesis, only if Supper’s Ready had been written by Jason Voorhees.
In one reality, the payoff is some relatively mellow Fender Rhodes and something that put me in mind of my beloved 1990s Sega Megadrive game console.
The album plays out with acoustic guitar played against another acoustic guitar, in such a way that you’d think there were two separate songs merging in low gravity as the guitarists fall slowly down a flight of stairs, shimmering into infinity. The result is beautifully engaging.
In conclusion, The Bob Lazar Story may seem to be the musical equivalent of Tourette’s Syndrome. The sounds can’t keep still, they jump about and would appear to suffer involuntary twitches. There is no repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary randomness here. The truth is, there should never be any doubt that Vanquisher is a perfectly orchestrated succession of well-timed musical phrases, marshalled into songs. If you’re looking for music that repeatedly goes from groovy to What The Actual Fuck and back at the speed of light then you’ll love The Bob Lazar Story, and you’ll absolutely adore Vanquisher.
There is never a dull moment with The Bob Lazar Story.
01. Pongville (0:51)
02. Eleven (1:55)
03. Eyes Only / Vanquisher (2:01)
04. Section 8 (1:53)
05. Project Top Secret (4:00)
06. Arps (0:07)
07. Ambient Pedals (3:05)
08. Randoloftentimes (0:19)
09. Is This Foodstool? (6:37)
10. Tony!! (0:19)
11. Restroom (0:44)
12. Goodbye Victor Tripoldi (2:31)
13. Hooves & Broken Biscuits (4:32)
14. Two For Rest (3:49)
15. Operation Full Klinger (5:31)
16. Elevensnip (1:33)
Total Time – 35:15
Matt Deacon – Guitar, Mouse, Vocals
Chris Jago – Drums, Percussion, Screams
Mike Fudakowski – Bass (tracks 1,2,7,13 & 14)
Jacob Petrossian – Lead Guitar (track 7)
Zeke Deacon – Vocals (track 10)
All songs written, recorded and mixed by Mr. Deacon.
Drums recorded and mixed at Shabby Road Studios, Los Angeles, by Mr. Jago
Record Label: Bad Elephant Music
Country of Origin: New Zealand
Date of Release: 9th August 2019