Giraffe Tongue Orchestra Broken Lines2016 Party Smasher Inc.
It's a zoo in here.
There’s no disputing that the long-gestating supergroup Giraffe Tongue Orchestra boast an impressive roster: William DuVall of Alice In Chains on vocals, Ben Weinman of The Dillinger Escape Plan on guitars, Brent Hinds of Mastodon on guitars/backing vocals, Pete Griffin of Dethklok/Zappa Plays Zappa fame on bass and Thomas Pridgen (ex-The Mars Volta) on drums.
It’s a proverbial dreamteam overflowing with virtuosic musicians, but then again, supergroup’s are never a safe bet. No matter the players, there’s so many variables involved that few ever make it past a one-off vanity project. At its core, “Broken Lines” finds this ensemble hungry and creatively engaged, suggesting they’d certainly like to keep the project a going concern. It’s also an unexpected turn for at least a few of the musicians involved, steering straight into a risky, yet adventurous mix of jagged funk, searing rock, turbulent noisy metal and seasoned vocals.
The song “Thieves And Whores” is drenched in The Mars Volta‘s freakish psychedelia, yet trades verbal schizophrenia for a far more steadfast vocal delivery. “No One Is Innocent” finds Brent Hinds lending some ethereal backing vocals to the mix, successfully fulfilling fanboy’s dreams of ‘what if?’ pairings. Lead single “Blood Moon” bursts forth with a punchy rhythm section and thick grooves. Meanwhile full-on driving funk emerges on “Everyone Gets Everything They Really Want“, which bops and bounces like a somewhat recent Red Hot Chili Peppers jam.
It’s an eclectic affair to be sure with quite a bit of elaborate instrumentation and talented musicianship. But that’s not to say that there aren’t some areas for improvement. Too often it feels like Weinman‘s fingerprints mark the majority of the album, as countless parts and progressions sound like leftovers from The Dillinger Escape Plan. The hyperactive funk-rock of “Back To The Light” features segments that directly recall the aforementioned band’s “Nothing’s Funny“, while “Fragments & Ashes” sports near-direct DNA of the spastic ‘mathcore’ pioneers.
Meanwhile, the dreary ballad “All We Have Is Now” is a bit too meandering for its own good and feels out of place amongst the lively momentum of the rest of the album. Unfortunately, Hinds‘ vocals only prominently appear on the lone track mentioned above as well, with their general exclusion feeling like a missed opportunity.
Still, for its handful of faults “Broken Lines” is an interesting, if not uneven listen. Long distance relationships and conflicting schedules seem to have kept it from being a truly great experience, but there’s certainly a promising spark lit here worth exploring.