Some good, some bad....
NME 8 OUT OF 10
Any band that namechecks forgotten ‘60s psych heroes The 13th Floor Elevators is alright by us. But Creature With The Atom Brain go one better by managing to sound like the first QOTSA album; that is, a heady, psychotropic descent into the underworld of drone. Rock’s finest asphalt-chewer Mark Lanegan’s appearance simply seals the deal-this is fantastic.
ROCK SOUND 8/10
Aldo Struyf has been carving out a niche as Millionaire muso and (album guest vocalist) Mark Lanegan cohort for some time. As The Creature With The Atom Brain, the Belgian keeps things deceptively simple and doggedly psychedelic, opting for the kind of frazzled, kerosene-soaked fuck ‘n’ roll that, in another carnation, would gatecrash crack-house parties and shit in the sink when no one was looking. While the album is stuffed with riffs that lurk around Overdrive Control with barely concealed menace, the Dandy Warhols-esque splurge of ‘Mind Your Own God’ carries more elegance, while the startling ‘Rapemans Scalp’ shows Struyf’s love of screwball anti-pop, a la Melt Banana, has not gone unchecked.
Much like, say, The Wu Tang Clan, the mutually supporting group of musicians that surround the Queens Of The Stone Age/Mark Lanegan/Desert Sessions axis all release albums in their own right. On his debut album, Lanegan keyboardist Aldo Struyf sadly proves himself to be one of the gang’s lesser talents: despite the occasional phoned-in vocal from Lanegan, I Am The Golden Gate Bridge is an agreeably fuzzy but ultimately forgettable collection of laid back sleaze rock.
POWER PLAY 6/10
A Band that calls itself ‘Creature With The Atom Brain’ and calls it’s debut “I Am The Golden Gate Bridge’ might be up it’s own arse or taking the piss. Either way, this rock group from Antwerp sounds quite intriguing: a fuzzed out, faintly stoned combo with a hint of quirkiness thrown in for good measure.
And in some ways, the mix does rather work. There’s a gleefully whimsical and lively feel to the music. And the band seems willing to take risks, given some of the, err, stranger noises on the record, but also the odd nature of the riffs and chords themselves. At its best, the album has a deceptively mainstream sound under which all sorts of dissonance and depth lurk.
But at it’s worst, the album is perhaps too whimsical, too left field, too unfocused. At times, it sounds a lot like the band were so out there that the music itself got a bit lost and decided to try and find its way home, forgetting to have any hooks in the process. What really ruins ‘I Am…’, therefore, is not the sense that there’s anything to dislike. Instead, it’s more like there isn’t enough here to really care either way.
BIG CHEESE 3/5
Josh Homme, eat your heart out. Or let Creature With The Atom Brain do it for you. ‘Rapemans Scalp’ makes it sound like the band has started on your face already. It’s weird – like what would happen to someone stranded in long-term isolation. Suddenly, other people come into sight, and honestly you mean to just say hi, but instead you start devouring them. As a soundtrack to that scenario, ‘I Am…’ works, and the heavy riffs played at such ominous pace (ie: Black Sabbath/Butthole Surfers) provide a fitting backdrop to Mark Lanegan’s occasional vocal. Ultimately, Aldo Struyf, a.k.a. The Creature, has done a good job of making a record that sounds like the desert. It’s a particularly striking achievement given that he’s from Belgium.
Being Alternative is a great and laudable thing, but the very act of being ‘different’ is certainly no indication of genius. Creature With The Atom Brain sadly don’t live up to their pompous billing – what you get is a mostly lo-fi, backwoods alt-rock, a watered down version of what QOTSA do so well. A few tracks feature Mark Lanegan, frontman with the inexplicably revered Screaming Trees, and tracks like Black Out New Hit are built along similarly nondescript lines. None of this is standout awful, but you’d need a serious hit from a herbal ciggie to actually dig it.
Mark Lanegan does guest vocals on three songs on his keyboard player Creature With The Atom Brain’s debut solo album, ‘I Am The Golden Gate Bridge’ out March 31, also has a song featuring vocals from Tim Vanhamel of Eagles of Death Metal.
http://i163.photobucket.com/albums/t297/jezusfactory/CreatureDocumentandAU.jpg DOCUMENT and AU
Said Creature is Aldo Struyf, guitar player in Millionaire, and synth man for Mark Lanegan (who features on here) and while you could doubt the atomic nature of this, it is moderately cosmic. Sounding like a lost ‘Desert Session’ this has a similar feel and sound to that ensemble cast and The Queens of The Stone Age in general. Full of spiraling, spiky guitar lines, electronic blips, beats and repetitious Kyuss driving bass lines this album will be manna from heaven for those of you who long for anything that reminds of John Garcia et al.
8 out of 10
CWTAB revolve around a sort of European splinter call of the Queens of The Stone Age stoner rock cabal. Main dude Aldo Struyf plays keyboards for Mark Lanegan, while members of Eagles of Death Metal and Millionaire guest. The first half of ‘…Golden Gate Bridge’ is agreeable enough head-nod fare, refreshingly not out to please anybody but itself. Proceedings take a sharp left turn around ‘Park My Car Outside The Record Store’ a scorched earth groove reminiscent of early Queens. But that doesn’t prepare you for the lunacy of ‘Rapeman’s Scalp’, an epic industro-pysche nightmare that imagines the Butthole Surfers/Ministy collab ‘Jesus Built My Hotrod’ taken to its illogical conclusion. Marky Mark Lanegan himself guests on a few tracks, most notably ‘Crawl Like A Dog’, where his desert dry roar is front and centre amongst the wreckage of gnarled riffs. Some quality head music. James Macdonald.
FOR FANS OF: REDD KROSS, TURBONEGRO, BUTTHOLE SURFERS
Millionaire man makes rocking return with guest spot from Mark Lanegan…
Aldo Struyf is a very well-connected individual. Not only is he one of the exceedingly talented fellows making up the band Millionaire, but he’s also responsible for the keyboards on Mark Lanegans’ “Bubblegum” album. As such, he is able to rope in both his Millionaire bandmate Tim Vanhamel as well as the one and only Mr Lanegan for guest spots on this, the debut full-length album he has constructed with some help from Millionaire bandmates and a couple of other bods.
For all the biog bangs on about the Butthole Surfers (totally inappropriately, there’s no valid point of relation), the flavour of “I Am The Golden Gate Bridge” is much closer to the Queens Of The Stone Age, and even at times reminds me of grunge heavyweights Tad. It’s rock, Jim, but not as we know it – stoner grooves wrestle with discordant passages and some rather spaced-out lyrics, making for an album unusual and eclectic enough to be genuinely impressive and stylistically distinct without relying on gimmickry.
Whether Creature With The Atom Brain will achieve the same heights as Lanegans’s work, or even Millionaires’, remains to be seen. Honestly, I doubt it, but I do get the feeling that with this band, I could be proved very wrong on that point. Well worth checking out.
By: EDDIE THOMAS
CREATURE WITH THE ATOM BRAIN- I Am The Golden Gate Bridge
See now here's an album you wouldn't want to meet down a dark alley. Oh it's not that 'I Am The Golden Gate Bridge', the debut full-length from one-man band Creature With The Atom Brain, is a nasty, violent thing. No, the real disturbing stuff here is in the details. In titles like 'Rapeman's Scalp', in lines about shiny guns and strange smells, and in songs that sound like robots waking up and taking over using all our electric guitars. And then there's the concern that comes with never knowing what this Creature (Aldo Struyf to his mum, member of Millionaire and The Mark Lanegan Band on his CV) is going to do next. Over just 45-minutes here Struyf concocts nails-down-a-chalkboard chills ('The Psychedelic World…'), commands off-kilter doom ('Blackened Roses…'), plays garage rock so fuzzed-up and furious that it makes Queens Of The Stone Age sound like Fall Out Boy ('Not A Sect') and twists a folksy, country turn into the background music for the most frightening journey of your life ('Broken Flowers Grow'). Providing light among the shade are sizzling synth lines, memorable riffs and irresistible melodies too so delve deeper if you dare but do remember to keep repeating, 'it's only a record, it's only a record…'.
http://www.myspace.com/creaturewiththeatombrain - dirty grinding grizzled fuzzed up blues - think deep purple shimmying up to the Melvins and kicking several shades out the Zep - gnarled boogie from Belgium - bugger all info alas though we must admit being rather taken by ’not a sect’ which to these ears sounds like Jaz Killing Joke taking charge at the steering wheel of ministry’s hotrod and making road kill out of bearded chart truckers ZZ Top. It’s mooted that there’s a whole album worth of this stuff around ready to terrorise a record rack near you shortly.
I Am The Golden Gate Bridge is the first full-length offering from Creature With The Atom Brain, and an ideal choice for the connoisseur of gritty rock and damaged melody.
The Creature With The Atom Brain is better known as Aldo Struyf; the name may not be instantly recognisable, but if I mention that he played guitar and keys for Millionaire and fulfils synth-playing duties for no less a luminary than Mark Lanegan, you’ll realise that you’ve probably heard something with him playing on it at some point.
It’ll also give you some idea of the sonic pedigree that informs I Am The Golden Gate Bridge, but not quite as much as Struyf’s confessed adoration of The 13th Floor Elevators and The Butthole Surfers; Creature With The Atom Brain make fuzzy stripped-back rock’n'roll noise with a generous helping of weird.
As with all good rock music, the secret is in the melodies. Creature With The Atom Brain have a good ear for riffs that are immensely catchy despite having that “damn, I could play that” simplicity that makes you want to pick up an instrument and join in. I Am The Golden Gate Bridge is the sort of album that you find yourself whistling along to.
At least, I found that I was whistling along to it – and what that says about my mental state, I have no idea, but it may not be entirely positive from a psychiatrist’s viewpoint. Because as catchy as the tunes on I Am The Golden Gate Bridge may be, they’re also kind of schizoid and off-kilter.
Creature With The Atom Brain seem to have a knack of developing simple but slightly jarred rhythms and riffs that either run on longer or repeat sooner than you expect them to, making you feel as if maybe you zoned out for half a second and missed a bit.
The instrumentation of I Am The Golden Gate Bridge adds to the sense of hazy disorientation, too. Guitar riffs, rough and abrasive, crunched up like used tinfoil by distortion pedals of old and dubious provenance; synth patches that you’d be hard pressed to call anything other than evil; monologue mantras and stoned drawls for the vocals, some of which are contributed by Struyf’s buddies Tim “Millionaire” Vanhamel and Mark “Mark Lanegan” Lanegan.
Creature With The Atom Brain make drug music, basically. By that I don’t necessarily mean music made under the influence of drugs (though I wouldn’t want to rule it out, either), nor music advocating the use of drugs. But as an example of the sort of skewed reality that chemically assisted living might create in the world between your ears, I Am The Golden Gate Bridge rates pretty highly.
It also rates pretty highly as a dirty and damaged rock’n'roll album. Creature With The Atom Brain conjure up the vibes of long hot summer days spent strung out in badly-furnished rooms in search of inspiration and cheap alcohol, or bumbling around the strip-joint neighbourhood stoned out of your brain. Just remember what to say when the cops stop you and ask who you are - “I Am The Golden Gate Bridge, man!”
CREATURE WITH THE ATOM BRAIN: "I Am The Golden Gate Bridge" (Jesus Factory Records)
RELEASED? 31st March
SOUNDS LIKE? Wonderland, wonder-friggin-land. Space-rawking, deadpan, dead good 'world of riff' kind of concept album. It's like some aliens have turned up and based their entire appreciation of our culture on the broadcast of a Hawkwind headlined Glastonbury and are making friends by showing us how the blues make it all better, and they do.
IS IT ANY GOOD? It's boss, wicked, radical and durned tooting. It's on here, now and loud and we've got everything else!
WHERE IS IT? www.myspace.com/creaturewiththeatombrain
Creature With The Atom Brain
I Am The Golden Gate Bridge
Creature with the atom brain is an Antwerp based project revolving mainly around one man, Aldo Struyf. They produce sleazy rock in the vein of Black Sabbath and QOTSA however this is cleverly blended with pop and experimental influences to create a sordid but strangely sumptuous record. The production is crisp yet rips through barriers when necessary, this is a record which isn’t afraid to say and do what it thinks. It sets up conventions and them brings them down. When you think you hear a gentle acoustic guitar break creep in, a low-end riff will enter over the top and when you think the record may break into extravagance it doesn’t. Guitar solos are well handled if it is possible to call them guitar solo’s at all and the drums always seem spot on. If the record isn’t always coherent at every stage then that’s a necessary exclusion as it’s the ability to keep your testicles shaking and your heart beating precociously fast at any given moment which is the real strength of this record. This may make the band seem like they are ridiculously heavy, to an extent they are, but it’s their restraint them makes them a success. Tension is built through repetition and atmosphere; there are no metal gimmicks involved. If clear melody is your preference then maybe this record is not for you, there are melodies hear but they will not instantly hit you.
’16 inch revolver’ manages to show off many of the bands positive aspects in less than four minutes. It’s dirty rock but there’s an obscure funk element here which also evident in ‘park my car outside the record store’. Its funk it the loosest sense but it’s definitely there. There’s also a psychedelic element which is oddly entrancing and the vocals being low in the mix really adds to this. This feature also works to full effect in ‘Black out, new hit’, the words ‘you don’t smell fresh, you cut my skin, I aint your friend no more’ are clearly audible but there’s plenty which isn’t, the world he creates is veiled and glimpses are offered into his off-kilter mind without ever fully revealing it. The guitars are used to full effect on this album; they lead the way while the vocals often come in short-sharp bursts, slowly intensifying. The instrumentation sometimes even becomes weirdly exotic and on ‘rapeman’s scalp’ a sporadic acoustic guitar and processed vocals lead into this. Journeyman Mark Lanegan contributes vocals on crawl like a dog, probably the most single-esque track on the whole album. A simple riff is juxtaposed with production trickery and pounding drums, making it instant and hard hitting when compared to the former track showing this band are certainly not one-dimensional.
If you are going to listen to this record, then do it properly! This is definitely not one that will become your favourite record on first listen. Lock yourself in and get your headphones out, if you invest in this record you will get a lot out of it. It’s not the most coherent record of all time but listening to it is thought provoking and blood-curdling at the same time. The fact it is not instantly accessible in fact turns out to be one of its most promising features. Repeated listens reveal darker riffs hidden under layers of noise, the drumming really opens up and the vocals become increasingly eerie becoming ingrained on your membrane. In short, ‘I am the golden gate bridge’ is a fine debut.
Creature With The Atom Brain - I Am The Golden Gate Bridge
by Tom Mendelsohn
Mark Lannegan's sillier mate
"These days we rate things exclusively on how much we’d like to play them on Guitar Hero, and a good half dozen tracks here would be very fitting indeed."
Creature With The Atom Brain has pedigree (hence, we guess, the small brain; inbreeding or something). He plays guitar and keyboards for Millionaire, and tours with Mark Lanegan. We assume that not only would this make him handy in fights, it should also mean that he plays some mean hard rock. And, what do you know; our assumptions are justified by the cold hard fact of product: 'I Am The Golden Gate Bridge' is significantly catchier than its own acronym, and it rocks hard.
What’s more, this record has that rare commodity in today’s world of soulless, corporate yadda yadda – creativity. That is to say, while it is hard rock more or less of the stoner rock school of guitar work, which is good in itself, there are a lot of less standard ideas playing around at the edges of songs. The guitar itself is sharp but thin, a deliberate move which takes away a lot of the heavy. Instead, amidst the crunch, there’s quite a bit of interesting synthy fooling around, which adds a satisfying dimension to the music.
There are several songs here which are genuinely excellent. These days we rate things exclusively on how much we’d like to play them on Guitar Hero, and a good half dozen here would be very fitting indeed. He can make all sorts of noises come out of his instruments, can Creature, aka Aldo Struyf, and the majority of them are good. Mark Lanegan and Millionaire's Tim Vanhamel both guest on the record, which is also deeply to the credit of all concerned.
Being Belgian, Creature has a fine line in twisting English into unexpected shapes. Well, he does in terms of album and song titles – we can’t make out much of the lyrics, but we fervently hope they are as bonkers as songs named ‘Is That Lady Sniff?’ and ‘Rapeman’s Scalp’. We also hope that it is meant to sound a bit ridiculous, rather than it being the product of a confused man whose English isn’t very good. Nevertheless, the whole package has a bleak air of menacing humour, and we like the album for its darkly silly atmosphere as much as anything else, though it does totally wail.
The deterioration of band names as an art form continues unabated with Creature With The Atom Brain and their equally poorly titled debut I Am The Golden Gate Bridge. However, it's not the names we're here to talk about, it's the music. Unfortunately, that isn't anything to write home about either, being predominantly the ugly bastard child of the Minutemen, the Butthole Surfers and Ween.
Following a mostly pointless guitar instrumental, the album launches into the mid-paced '16-Inch Revolver'. It's a pleasing mix of AC/DC-ish guitars, wheezing synths and Hot Chip harmonies. Sounding at other times like a bored Stooges, the album's incessant reliance on a slower tempo begins to grate (especially with the hardcore-ish time changes, that really do clash at this speed), and you soon realise that a mediocre opener is the perfect choice for a mediocre album.
For the most part, the rest of the album is simply too ordinary to notice, fading anonymously into the background; it's not helped by a mix that whilst sounding empty, also lacks separation or distinction (somewhat appropriate considering the Stooges resemblance), meaning the just-too-slow groove of something like 'Black Out, New Hit' is almost interminable. Even guest vocals by Screaming Trees legend Mark Lanegan can't save it, and although the Latin percussion of 'Broken Flowers Grow' promises much, it, along with the rest of the album, fails to deliver.
Rating: 1/5 by Gaz Hughes