Mose Giganticus – Gift Horse   1 comment

I find the concept of “the review” a particularly interesting sociological phenomenon.  As someone who ostensibly writes reviews, I’m yet to fully understand the end goal — the whole enterprise seems, in some sense, perverse.  On the face of it, a review is simply a statement of opinion as that opinion pertains to, in most cases, a particular piece of art.  The reviewer sets out to experience the art, meditates on it, formulates an opinion thereof and articulates it to the benefit of others interested in said art.

However, things hardly ever seem to play out in the way in which they are conceived.  Take for example Pitchfork circa 2004:  one would be hard-pressed to find a single review published on that site that actually pertained to the album it claimed to be judging.  Obviously there was a reason for this:  Pitchfork wanted to perpetuate a sense of erudite elitism so that they might appear as the authority on the indie rock scene.  And quite frankly, there’s no better way to succeed at such an endeavor then by being vague, ambiguous and overly harsh in one’s assessment of other’s creative endeavors.  (See also the French Existentialists of the early 20th century.)

Or Consider A.O. Scott from the New York Times.  To my knowledge the man is synonymous with the notion of the “reviewer” and has become so without a single original thought in his feckless head.  Scott’s reviews are entirely predictable as well, nothing more than a sounding board for his banal brand of post-modern expressionism.  If you tell me a movie, the leads and its genre, I can tell you what Scott will score it as, which is just to say that the man is unable to escape the cheap and lewd brand of literary, and more generally, artistic criticism hocked at Harvard University.

What I’m trying to say, really, is that “the review” is, more often than not, nothing more than a device to promote the reviewer themselves; it’s a means used to elevate the regard of the reviewer in the eyes of his or her peers, so that (s)he may display their intricate and extensive knowledge of the material by being the first one to point out that John William’s lifted the entire Star Wars score from Holst’s “The Planets” or proclaim that “Salo: 120 Days of Sodom” is one of the greatest movies of the 20th century.  It’s all bullshit, really, and as far as I can tell, this attitude is implanted into young and impressionable journalists at the university level when they are handed a copy of Derrida’s “Writing and Difference” and told film begins and ends with Godard.

I think my analysis breaks down somewhat when you’re dealing with a site like Doommantia.  Granted, I’m a contributor here, so it would be bad taste to bite the hand that feeds, but I sincerely believe my co-writers Sandrijn and Alek and site purveyor Ed write what they do because they have an intense passion for this type of music and want other share that with others.

However, I have noticed this attitude tacitly lurking in a myriad of other metal sites, which is odd, as I always assumed metal-heads didn’t attend college.  Case in point:  One-man band (Matt Garfield) Mose Giganticus’ new album “Gift Horse” (Relapse), which has generally received poor reception by a lot of online publications.  Fair enough.  The review is, by definition, a purely subjective endeavor.  I get that, really.  She didn’t like the production; he thought it sounded too repetitive; you’ve heard it all before — the list of negatives can (and often does) continue ad infinitum.  But every negative review, comment and thread I’ve read comes from people who are clearly attempting to channel their inner Chuck Klosterman.  (For those of you who don’t know Chuck, he’s a cheap knockoff of A.O. Scott.)  And while I hate to be the bearer of bad news, this is really not something to be proud of:  any attempts to levy highbrow criticism against a form of artistic expression that purposefully, and in my opinion, rightfully resists intellectualization will inevitably fail and make the critic look like a complete and utter fuck.  (Yes, I realize the irony of what I just wrote.)

To be fair, the opening track to “Gift Horse” does remind me of “Hooch” and the Garfield’s vocals sound a lot like Mastodon, but after spinning this record on and off for the past two weeks, for the life of me, I can’t understand how anyone cannot recognize the utter potential in this band.   “Gift Horse” is a solid slab of metal, and despite the fact it wears its influences on its sleeves,  manages to offer something different to a genre that so often than not banks on the fact that there weren’t enough Dio era Sabbath albums recorded.  I threw this album on at work as background noise in an attempt to do work, but quickly found myself asking, “What the fuck is this?” when “The Left Path” starting blasting through my headphones:  the chugging riffs, futuristic synth sounds and auto-tuned, Transformer-esque vocals caught me completely off guard.  Apparently Garfield thought a mash up of Zombi, The Melvins and Testament would be a good idea.  He was right.

Tying this all back to my diatribe regarding asshole reviewers, the point is simple:  If you don’t like an album, fine.  No fucking skin off my back.  But there’s really no point in intellectualizing your negativity in an attempt to demonstrate to people that you “know music” (or movies, or literature, or art, or whatever).  There’s a lot of shit out there, which is natural given the fact that there’s six billion assholes on this planet going through an existential crisis just like me and you.  But what’s the fucking point spending 1,000 words telling the world that “Gift Horse” is shit because it ‘it fails to forge new ground in a neo-post modern society wrought by societal angst, which itself is a direct resultant of …’ blah blah fucking blah.  (Ok, maybe I’m putting words into this reviwer’s mouth.)

But really, if an album sucks, don’t review it and ask the world to listen to your self-important bullshit.  There’s more than enough good art out there to spend your time on, so why waste it on telling us something sucks?  (But it’s a career move, you say?)  And really, when you put it into perspective, the fact that Mose Giganticus is one dude who managed to find a constructive use of his time, when most people (myself included) are too busy looking at internet porn to learn Pro Tools or Garage Band, I’d say that’s pretty fucking cool.  My hat’s off to Matt Garfield — “Gift Horse” is a rad album and definitely worth your time, especially given the fact it clocks in under 30 minutes.  The world needs a lot more more albums like this and a lot less “critical” insights into them.  (And believe me, I’m not excluded.)

Mose Giganticus @ Myspace

Review Written By A.J Djalali

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Posted August 22, 2010 by doommantia in Mose Giganticus

One response to “Mose Giganticus – Gift Horse

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  1. One reason I like this site is that you dudes actually do listen to the albums and then do actually review them with some thought. Most other sites seem to review with a hidden agenda. There is one popular review site that I am sure by reading their reviews don't even listen to the albums they are reviewing or maybe they just listen to a few seconds of each track. The feeling I get with Doommantia is that its fans of the music writing for other fans of the music. Other sites are merely critics feeding their own powertrip by putting down bands or whatever.

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