The Land of Non Sequitur Rhythms

Menergy (Initial)
The White Octave

By David Lilly

Do lush harmonies leave you feeling fatigued? Are steady and solid rhythms rendering you lethargic? If so, you could use a healthy dose of Menergy. What's Menergy? Have no fear -- it's not the latest health gimmick to perk you up. Menergy is the second full-length CD by a band called the White Octave, from Chapel Hill, N.C. This clean-cut looking quartet bashes out quirky, staggering rhythms, numerous tempo changes within most of its songs, and really noisy guitar sounds; just the pick-me-up you need.

Lead ax-man Finn Cohen attacks his guitar as much as he plays it, and appropriately so, since this is aggressive music. Lead vocalist Stephen Pedersen sometimes yells or screams and sometimes sings, and he does it all on key. His vocals sound like he's singing inside a large tin can. Bassist Lincoln Hancock and drummer Robert Biggers deserve some kind of award, as they make one of the quirkiest rhythm sections ever, given the number of times they change tempos on a dime within each song. There should be a warning label (with a smiley face) on the disc, warning the public about these non sequitur rhythms.

"The Constant is Zero" ushers us into the disc with a harsh grandfather-clock guitar sounding off dozens of chimes. Just as you're wondering how long that's going to last, it gives way to the jerky, but danceable rhythm of the song. If you dance to this, avoid a trip to the ER by using common sense during those idiosyncratic time changes. Throughout the discordant "Splashed Into Serpents," the guitar sounds like it's playing a different song than that of the bass and drums - a very tasty ambiguous effect. Do not be fooled by the first minute of summer breeze that opens "Wait." It gets a bit noisy, but it's the closest this band gets to a playing a ballad - think of it as a kinder, gentler sonic ramble. If you like to listen to music while you practice running sprints, "Powerlines" is highly recommended - it moves faster than TV commercials. During the 5 minutes, 48 seconds of the aptly titled "Move in Time," there are numerous tempo changes, beginning with a short march. "Menstrumental" is the calm after the storm, and a good play on words.

This music may be an acquired taste for a lot of people, but it is worth giving a listen so you can hear for yourself what the White Octave can do. Even if you don't like it, it is quite interesting. Read more about the White Octave at http://www.deepelm.com/bands/index_two.html