Scizzorman’s latest release Schizophonic
Scizzorman’s latest release Schizophonic is another bold step forward in an artistic sense for this Perth, Australia based band. They first burst onto the indie scene in 2005 and have blazed an unique creative trail since then. It’s often a cliché, nay invariably, to say you haven’t heard anything like Band X before, but it’s true for once in the case of Scizzorman. Their singular melding of rock and funk influences are quite unlike other artists seeking to bring those two styles in accord; you’ll find no Red Hot Chili Peppers or Parliament echoes reverberating through the course of Schizophonic’s nine songs. This is a band, led by drummer Terry Vinci, forging their way through the maze of modern music and they boast songs and an approach that is, in turns, fresh and familiar.
It must be said, however, the band’s music isn’t for everyone. Anyone looking for typical song formulas and subject matter need not apply here. If there are any lingering doubts of that, the opener “21st Century Clan” dispels them. It’s an excellent introduction to the themes guiding Terry Vinci’s songwriting throughout the album’s nine tracks, thoroughly modern and timely, and admittedly portrays the outlook for the species’ future as increasingly grim. The musical mood is far from despairing however. Scizzorman are positively alive with inspiration as they wind their way through a dizzying array of tempo changes and incorporate a variety of textures into the song’s mix.
They shift gears with second song of the “Introvert” side of this release. “Souls of the Past” leans heavy on keyboard player Dorothy Helfgott’s talents and the rich electronic swirl enveloping the track justifies this as a wise decision. Vinci’s vocals take a distinctly different approach with this performance than we hear on the earlier “21st Century Clan” and I appreciate the near progressive flavor of this performance. It’s a sound they revisit elsewhere on the release, albeit in slightly different fashion. His drumming, as well, sets an authoritative tone balancing out the electronic instrumentation.
Helfgott provides some valuable fills during “Giants”, the concluding song of Side A, and this funk influenced romp has a near gallop in its arrangement that many listeners will enjoy. It could be a potent single for the release, but the band instead opted for “Skin”, the opening track of the “Outrovert” side of the release. I understand the choice. “Skin” is one of the album’s fully realized compositions as the lyrics and music alike deliver quite a punch. Their wit and understated humor shine bright in this song, but Vinci’s intelligent burns even brighter.
Not as bright as it does on “Homoblivion” however. This track, for me, is one of the boldest moments on the release as it jettisons everything except bass and vocals yet succeeds as a fleshed out and full performance. The apocalyptic hue coloring the lyrics is never oppressive and the vocals are robust, yet never overdone. Scizzorman finishes Schizophonic with the instrumental “Generation Wrap”, a remarkably normal tune in light of what precedes it, and a meditative finale highlighting their unquestionable musical skill. Schizophonic plants its flag in many camps during the course of nine songs but it feels and sounds complete rather than fragmented and stands heads and shoulders above the band’s fine past albums.