Tomahawk are Delightfully Odd Fellows on Oddfellows
In the eyes (or, more appropriately, ears) of many, Mike Patton can seem to do no wrong. His musical arsenal is never-ending, and for the most part rock solid. In the late 1990’s, it was as if the guy didn’t know how to take a break, with his hands in many a musical pot, one of which being the out-the-gate fan favorite Tomahawk. Their debut was met with riotous praise, their sophomore album garnering excitement enough two years later to get them on tour with Tool.
Still, for followers of the off-the-wall “supergroup,” the upcoming release of Oddfellows may prove to be a source of both excited and fearful anticipation. Featuring members of Faith No More, The Jesus Lizard, Fantomas, Mr. Bungle, The Melvins, Helmet, etc., the band’s noted success with their first two alums was followed by ‘07’s Anonymous, which… eeehhhhh. I mean, they meant well.
Thankfully, the band has recently offered us Oddfellows, a release that more than makes up for their last little experiment.
If you haven’t already gotten the jist — no, Oddfellows is not a continuation on the path Tomahawk were heading with their last album. It’s a different animal entirely; a relentless, mentally disturbed animal that seems to maybe hang out at seedy jazz clubs a lot. While incredibly eclectic, the jazz element seems to be especially prevalent almost throughout, even if only just a delicate sprinkling at times. The track “Rise Up Dirty Waters,” arguably one of the strongest on the already-pretty-spot-on album, is a great example of this. But where there’s one extreme, there will always be another – take the track “Waratorium” for example: it’s far heavier than “Waters,” testing the waters of sludge metal, even.
There are points, of course, of rest. Early on, the atmospheric track “A Thousand Eyes” makes sure what would be the almost nonsensical (and I mean this in the most fabulous way possible) back and fourth is tempered, letting the listener pause a sec before the next grab-bag installment. This is again brought into the mix towards the end with the bluesy “Baby Let’s Play,” a song that’s both kinda sexy and kinda just… creepy.
At the end of the day, nothing is sacred in the realm of experimental music, making it above all others the epitome of hit or miss, the latter seeming to be the case with Tomahawk’s previous recording. Others have mentioned that this album is more “accessible” than Anonymous, and while I’m inclined to agree, the fact that this is a mildly schizophrenic album cannot be overlooked. While that’s not often considered an ideal diagnosis, for Tomahawk, it’s a likely, and welcomed, assumption. Oddfellows is not only one of the most interesting releases of 2013 so far, it’s one that’ll likely stay in rotation for many in the months to come.