OLD TIME RELIJUN – Songbook Vol.1

Northern Spy

Flanked by comrades Aaron Hartman and Bryce Panic, multi-instrumentalist Arrington De Dionyso is the recognized entity behind this collection of songs dating 1993-1996 (half live, the rest from a 4-track session) almost entirely revolving around similar traits: an irrelevantly agitated raspy voice (think a nervous Captain Beefheart lacking a testicle), jangling detuned guitar, a variegated instrumental palette that nevertheless – rather absurdly, one would say – defines a good number of pieces so similarly that telling them apart becomes a job. Points of reference can be detected aplenty, and we won’t start naming names (OK – the late, great Zoogz Rift might be an example). There are too many people who have done – some still do – this sort of technically advanced punk stuff, and 65 minutes of it are sincerely excessive even as archival curiosity. I’ve got hours of wail-and-scream dissonant improvisations taped with my friends in the 80s; perhaps there’s a market for that, accordingly to what was recently read on the Pravda of artistic coolness. Consequently, the recycling of juvenile experiments is going to become a trend (well, maybe not). That said, a handful of episodes caused a sincere laugh (for example, “Belly Belly”, “Qiyamat” and “Fig”) and the germs of a creatively edgy technique were already visible. The man has subsequently shown what he’s made of in his solo efforts or in collaboration with the likes of Thollem McDonas. However, this reviewer doesn’t feel the need of this semi-refined bashing game for unruly kids for more than 20/30 minutes – or less.

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