Made from Technetium (Touch and Go)
Man Or Astro-Man?

By Bob Bahr

Never really a surf band, Man Or Astro-Man? drives harder than ever on this album, a danceable rock record that shows surf roots like a bad dye job. Lyrics are largely incidental; sound samples from old movies and such are more prominent. There's a long history of this kind of attitude toward words in underground rock, and Man Or Astro-Man? seems to be delving into it. The Pixies seem as important as the Ventures to this quartet these days.

That's a good thing. It isn't until "Structo," the tenth track that someone would hear something that they could insist is surf. The sound is mostly driving guitar (with surprisingly little reverb), snare hits on 2 and 4, and busy, grooving bass below. Various other odd electronic sounds pop up, signalling further that this is not your father's surf music. A glance at some of the song titles - "Static Cling (Theme from)," "Theoretical Sounds of Slow Motion," "Lo Batt.," "A Saucerful of Sucrets," "Muzak for Cybernetics" and "Breathing Iron Oxide" - reveal how this Georgia band has mixed sci-fi geekiness with underground rock. Think Braniac, minus the Kraftwerk influence and plus a Dick Dale flavor.

Made from Technetium is a solid album and an enjoyable listen. So why don't I care about it? Oh yeah, there are absolutely no hooks on it. No riffs stick in the mind, no lyrics, no nothin'. With "Evert 1 Pipkin," the band seems to be making fun of bands like Blur - that's cool, but the laughter dies away and leaves next to nothing. At one point, the boys in this band were considering concentrating on making music for soundtracks. Smart thinking - this is truly great soundtrack music. But foreground music? Not for this puppy. I need a little something more than driving music with no lyrics.