Album: “Strange Weather, Isn’t It?”
Where: Sacramento, CA / Berlin, Germany
Release: Aug 24th
I remember somewhere between the release of !!!’s first record in 2001 and their second in 2004 how much mystery surrounded them, as people who had no idea who to say their name began discovering them and trying to tell others. Their dance punk funk was hip too, à la late ’70s early ’80s — A Certain Ratio and all that.
Now, !!!’s fourth album takes them to Berlin — or maybe Berlin took them to their fourth album — where they look to Brian Eno and others who have gone before them for new inspiration after a massive change in the band’s lineup and the horrid death of their drummer who fell down an elevator shaft last fall.
Nic Offer talked to Dazed about the Berlin scene. “It wasn’t anything conscious or planned. We’d jam and bring in feelings and states of mind and suddenly, sometimes, it’d sort of come together and we’d be like ‘Yeah, this is Berlin,'” Offer said. “New York has become pretty sterile in terms of dance music. It feels stale. In Berlin, there is a lot of innovation and creativity going on. It feels so much more alive.”
I recall how the mystery was lifted for me when I went to see !!! for the first time. I know now it was the cryptic nature of their name (derived from African “bush language, which makes the sound cluck, cluck, cluck”) that led me to expect a band of strange cool, few words and heavy Manchester scene revival grooves. I was stunned when these awkwardly tall guys came out, talked constantly, jumped around and jammed it up — I mean they really got jammy.
“Strange Weather, Isn’t It?” is jammy too, and I dare say a bit techno — dirty words where I come from. There’s a kind of overarching dork disco vibe to the whole album that some people are just at odds with, myself included. Opener “AM/FM” is a shrug for me. The closer, “The Hammer” makes me want to take one to the head.
The must-dance power of “The Most Certain Sure” is undeniable though and I’m most certainly sure it’ll be a big hit at sweaty parties for what remains of the summer. On another positive note, something of great sonic magnificence occurs halfway through “Even Judas Gave Jesus a Kiss,” the standout track from !!!’s Berlin-inspired formula — I’m sure Brian Eno himself would dig it.