Trance States in Tongues (Sub Pop)
by Jon Sarre
If yer sittin’ around and still haven’t heard the woolly’n’blustery acid-damaged gospel o’ the blues is the gospel of rock and rock is gospel, too, and vice-versa fucking downright confusional confessions of the mighty Zen Guerrilla, just punch yerself as hard as you can, in the face, in the nose, the stomach, anywhere, everywhere (just like that geek in Fight Club). How come? Sh-i-i-i-i-i-t-t-t-t-t, man! Yer missin’ out on what oughtta be the end-all and be-all of rock’n’roll, that’s why! Even if ya think ya don’t care, you’d change that radio-saturated tune yer whistlin’ if ya had the pleasure of watchin’ these gentle giants (they’re all over six foot, y’see, with singer Marcus Durant topping the charts at an NBA-tall height, like three Jon Spencers stacked on top of each other!) wrack yer ear drums with sonic testimonials that hit ya straight in the gut like the fist ya should’ve planted in yerself after the first run-on sentence. Thru the murky lights of any particular divey club stage on many a nite (cuz they tour like the bubonic plague) you can witness drummer Andy Duvall dwarf and pummel his kit like some stick-hurling Bonham-savant, thrill to gonzo bluesmaster guitarist Rich Millman shaking his face so hard you’d swear his skin was gonna fly off during the next righteous, noisy cacophonic solo, take in Carl Horne as he handles the John Entwhistle role of keeping everyone else rock-steady with his bass, otherwise they’d all get sucked up in the vortex of Durant’s karate-kicking Elvis with an Afro’n’a distortion box trip (which alone is almost worth the price of admission, best thing is when he flips up the goggles he usually wears and sorta looks out at the audience like he just woke up and doesn’t know what planet he’s on).
Now, you may be thinkin’, “so these Zen Guerrilla people are great live, shouldn’t I just save my ten bucks and see ’em and drink a bit to boot?” Sure, you could do that, but once ya see ’em, yer gonna wanna run down to the donation center and sell a pint o’plasma (makes for a cheap date!) and buy this new Trance States in Tongues record from their merch table, cuz yer gonna wanna have documentation that there were people on stage, yes, people with guitars, drums’n’microphones, not some kinda alien swamp creatures from Louisiana bayous in the 666th dimension (Zen Guerrilla’s from Delaware actually, tho’ they reside in San Francisco these days) schooled on sinister Philly soul and proto Chuck Berry licks taught to ’em by Ike Turner after he shot holes in his amp in a drunken rage. You don’t wanna be thinkin’ that you were the victim of some brainwash-bait’n’switch-cosmic-shellgame do ya? Hell no, you show up for work the next day and people’ll think yer crazy! Nuts! All the proof yer gonna need, f’chrissakes, is right here on this disc, Trance States in Tongues. It’s got names, listed with instruments and everything. Produced by that Jack Endino guy, a name recognizable by many connoisseurs of what was once famous as “The SubPop Sound.” Featuring a composition by one David Bowie (“Moonage Daydream” fittingly offa Ziggy Stardust), a name recognizable to most cuz he’s Trent Reznor’s dad or somethin’. For no other reason, you oughtta pick up this record so you can learn all ten words to “Preacher’s Promise” by the time the band rolls in to convert a club near you.