Rising from the ashes of one of rock's most promising acts can't be easy. Brainiac, a Dayton, Ohio act, were just creeping into the mainstream's consciousness when a tragic car accident took leader/vocalist Tim Taylor's life a few summers ago. John Schmersal was the guitarist for the futuristic rockers and is now continuing the more experimental side of Brainiac with his new outfit, ENON. Believo!, the band's debut, doesn't quite live up to the extremely high standards that Brainiac set for their twisted brand of noise, but it does show that Schmersal's creative muscle continues to flex and could be getting stronger.
Opening with the falsettoed "Rubber Car," ENON begin the disc like a whacked-out computer processor yearning to be human. Synths drive in and out of off-tempo percussion like bumper cars in hell and vocals struggle through Speak 'n Spell type effects, but ENON remain focused on their goal of making interesting music that mimics no other. It's a recipe that often works for the band, but not throughout the whole record. Casual listeners won't be accosted by anything in particular in Believo!'s more bland tracks like "Matters Gray" or the noirish "Cruel." Unfortunately, these songs will only find eager listeners in fans of obtuse melodies and jagged song structures.
Some of Believo!, however, is downright experimental bliss. The album's best and most accessible tracks are "Get the Letter Out" and "World in a Jar." The former's vocal melody line is sweetly innocent and catchy in the most pleasant of ways. Schmersal's delicate voice balances out the wonderfully uneven instrumentation. If ENON had a handful of tracks as good as "Get the Letter Out" they would surely meet indie rock stardom head on. "Jar" is equally engaging, with manipulated vocal melodies and a mellow vibe reminiscent of a sleepy internet connection. "For The Sum of It" floats along nicely with spurring drums and elegant background vocals that sound as if they were imported from overseas.
Believo! is a great first step for this new experimental outfit. Long live warped-hard drives and percolating sound cards!
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March 27 • The Clyde