The Kingdom

Nation Of Two

Ana-Them Records, 2004

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


Nation Of Two, as the name suggests, is a two-piece band that hails from the grunge-capital of the world, Seattle; the lineup reads, Darius Morrison on guitars & vocals and Phil Vignec on drums & vocals.

The duo consider Nina Simone as their "patron saint," a saint who is defending their "Nation Of Two." They are also influenced by feminist activists, and as a matter of fact, there is a track in the record titled "Dai Sil Kim Gibson" (referring to the female Korean-American documentary film-maker of the same name).

The strong ardent feminist influences, and the supposedly suggesting band name could have a lot to do with the fact that Morrison is actually a female-to-male transgender Asian-American. Hence, Nation Of Two represents the strength of such social outcasts who bear the courage to defy the system of short-sighted individuals.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The duo's music, having a garage-punk feel to it, resembles that of their Seattle counterparts Mudhoney, and exhibits all the anger of being social outcasts. Their debut record The Kingdom is an album of raw emotions and stripped down music: guitars -- with few simple chords and drums -- pounded ad hoc, pretty much make up as the music on the album. The rage of a social outcast shows in the lyrics, as Morrison drones "My blood is not thicker than water; who is my mother/father/sister/brother; and who are my people?" on "Blood."

The singing of Morrison and Vignec sounds like an outpour of angry discontentment of two very different types -- Morrison growls, and Vignec whines -- rather than a genuine attempt to sing, per se. In fact, it is discernable from the whole demeanor of the LP that not much planning went into the making of it. Although it could be argued that unplanned music comes out best, the duo's sound is so crude that they haven't even bothered (or deliberately not wanted) to fix up basic solecisms, making the songs sound random and disconnected.

At many points on the disc the vocals drift aimlessly off-track from the music, and the whole song sounds senselessly awkward. Even the guitars and drums behave in total disharmony with each other, and the music sounds like it has been recorded without rehearsals, on the very first take, and put on a disc without having given attention to the flaws made whilst the recording process.

Nevertheless, both Morrison and Vignec are skilled musicians -- certainly much more talented players than singers. With the record virtually devoid of even the basses, the duo show great promise with making good use of whatever little they have. Morrison's haphazard guitar-lines are original and sincere. Vignec is an excellent drummer, and his rapid jungle-beat like clatter throughout most songs, imparts a unique feature to the band's sound.

The Kingdom seems nothing more than a result of spontaneous jam-sessions between Morrison and Vignec, and this is what hurts the album most. A little bit of thought and effort into trying to polish off the elements that make the record sound drunk and out-of-balance might have yielded much better results.

Rating: E

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2005 Vish Iyer and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Ana-Them Records, and is used for informational purposes only.