Frantic Bleep - The Sense Apparatus
The End Records
Dark progressive experimental music
9 songs (41'31")
Release year: 2005
The End Records
Reviewed by Alex

People, I am sure you will read more reviews of this album and other writers will offer you an opinion about Frantic Bleep’s debut. I could be acting arrogant or overreaching by saying “don’t trust them”. The truth of the matter, The Sense Apparatus is impossible to categorize. On some subconscious level I even thought whether it is metal at all. After some hesitation it most likely is, but fitting it within existing standards is a futile task at best. To categorize the album is one thing, but to understand The Sense Apparatus is another undertaking entirely, no easier chore. And, again, I could be arrogant here, to understand this album it will take any reviewer out there many more listens than a regular reviewer usually takes. I tried it for a week, on and off, ‘cause if you have this thing on constantly it will start messing with your brain, and I am still scratching my head. Of course, it could be the lack of grey matter inside of my skull, but The Sense Apparatus is anything but accessible music.

The band involves four young Norwegians and Paul Mozart Bjorke (bass, vocals) is the only name I know as he is also playing bass in Madder Mortem. It is quite impressive then how such twisted experimentation could have originated from under 25 yr old minds. The whole album, minus shorter intro and outro, are songs about human senses. If you think sixth sense is fleeting, Frantic Bleep will introduce you to the seventh one.

Not that every sense got its distinct sound, but certainly there are no two like songs on The Sense Apparatus. The Expulsion and … But a Memory display extremely technical guitar playing, fingers flying up and down the fret. These leads quickly evaporate and yield to thick fuzz wall of sound and chugging riffs. I’d have to say these are quite prevalent with Frantic Bleep and they aren’t really my favorite. At the same time a lot of songs feature subdued and withdrawn atmospheres filled out by introverted vocals and ambience broken only by lots of cymbal and high-hat. The latter approach resonates with me well. The smuttering of melodies is everywhere, but the listener is always forced to sift through looking for one. The end of Curtainraiser and outro Cone sound quite ominous while the beginning of The Expulsion is almost pleasant. If that wasn’t enough Mausolos for its most part is white noise plus piano and almost a capello singing. In this song I could almost feel solar winds move disturbing the tender nature of human brain. Mandaughter, on the other hand, starts out with some Gothenborg death/thrash riff and has black metal style shrieking, practically the only place extreme vocals are used on the album except a few background growls.

I will be honest saying that some parts were absolutely captivating and everything made sense. Progressive rhythmic work in Nebulous Termini and … But a Memory is superb, with its percussive drum work by Sten Svendheim rivaling Jan Axel von Blomberg, aka Hellhammer (too many bands to list here) and Daniel Liljequist (Katatonia). Too bad these parts end abruptly replaced by Neurosis like chug’n’fuzz. Too bad, indeed. It is also OK to have whiny Type O Negative vocals when singing to piano (Sins of Omission), but when heavier riffing starts I long for metaphysical growls a la Mikael Akerfeldt. Actually, no knock on Paul Mozart Bjorke, his bass playing is cerebral (The Expulsion), but the band could use a Garm like vocalist.

The booklet is absolutely stunning, and I rarely comment on the cover art. Gold background, anatomic drawings, it has both futuristic and Michelangelo feel at the same time. I wouldn’t even make a slightest pathetic effort to explain the philosophy behind the lyrics. It probably took a lot to produce this, but Patrick Scantlebury (guitars, synth) knew what he was doing. It may have been impossible to use an outside producer for this job.

The Sense Apparatus is the music to exercise your brain to, and I am not sure many metal fans would jump to that. Dark, progressive, suffering from a number of bipolar disorders, this music is very challenging. Regrettably, a lot of people will just look at the quote without reading the review. My quote is practically irrelevant in this case as people's opinion will range from 0 to 100 on this.

Technicality of Cynic, overall atmosphere of late Arcturus and Ulver, bass rumblings of Madder Mortem, introversion and despondency of Katatonia, gothic vocals of Type O Negative and Depeche Mode, are you ready to take a plunge?

Killing Songs :
The Expulsion, Mausolos, Nebulous Termini
Alex quoted 67 / 100
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