Bellringer – Jettison

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Being the former bass player for The Melvins is enough to earn you a lifetime of credibility as a musician.  But Mark Deutrom is that and much more, serving as producer on The Melvins’ earliest LPs and the Pain of Mind album by Neurosis in the late ‘80s. He has also released five solo albums in the last 15 years with another due out this coming November.

Another accolade of Deutrom’s is his band, Bellringer of Austin, Texas. This group is his vessel for performing live.  The psychedelic rock act recently released the debut disc Jettison in August, a record that Deutrom solely wrote and produced.

The opening track, The God of Roosters Does Not Forget is a brief instrumental of just under three minutes. This is a sludgy and bare recording with infusions of blues that seep through a punk rock façade. The blues aspect is particularly noticeable at about 1:30 when the tempo slows and the group’s jamming begins to sound like something that originated from the Mississippi Delta.

Quitter practically has only two sections. It begins calmly with some keyboard and a soothing guitar melody. After the intro, the guitar adopts a much heavier and grittier tone. Although, the vocals here are sung in harmony, they seem incongruent with the music, which left me with a feeling of discomfort. Even after the smooth keyboard and guitar returned, the vocalist’s haunting screams ruined the relaxed mood. This back-and-forth between these two sections drags on for more than eight minutes.

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We start to hear the incorporation of several different genres on Inner Freak including rock, blues, and jazz. The track flows seamlessly through this intertwining of styles.  The entrance of the flute in the last leg of song allows for the jazz influence to genuinely stand out.

The last two tracks, Double Yellow Line and Demon have a couple of things in common. Both are particularly lengthy at 6:26 and 7:28 respectively. And each sound dark and menacing; these types of songs are a nice fit for a soundtrack to a horror movie. The rhythm sections in these tunes are slowly paced. Double Yellow Line features a prowling bass line that lurks patiently along. The timing in Demon is unhurried as well, but the instrumentation is much more digital than the previous track with its abundance of trippy, new age sounds.

Jettison is an odd journey through the mind of a multi-dimensional musician. I can really tell that Deutrom spent more than his share of time and energy on this and I’d recommend this album to any musician who wants to understand what it means to hone your skills after years of experience.

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