Proton Proton

Independent Release, 2005

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


"Art punk," "experimental rock," and "drum and bass" are a few ways Proton Proton (PP) has been described. The music of this trio (Paul Fuster, Jarrod Ruby, and Aron Sanchez) made up of bits and pieces of the best of different genres, has a sense of quirky intelligence of the hip acts -- Beck, The Postal Service, The White Stripes -- of the current underground music scene.

The genre-confusing music on EP#2 -- as the name suggests, is the band's second EP (they have yet to release a full-length album) -- is fundamental. PP's armory is modest, consisting of no more than just three instruments, other than the vocals, with minimal to none production effects. Still, the nature of the instruments used, and the band's gracious adoption of all kinds of indie styles, make EP#2 musically ambiguous.

With the exception of the drums, the other two instruments used by PP to make noise are unusual, seldom been used by a rock band. In fact one of them has never ever been used -- or even created for that matter -- before: the gass.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The gass literally takes its name from the two instruments it integrates: the guitar and the bass. The designer and player of the gass, Sanchez, makes this peculiar instrument sound like Les Claypool playing the bass and Claypool's partner-in-crime Larry LaLonde playing the guitars. The gass doesn't seem to have the total versatility of either the guitar or the bass, but this doesn't show in PP's music, which has strange twists and turns to keep it interesting and unique.

Sanchez's gass and Ruby's drums provide the distortion and chaos to the songs, in which are nestled notes from another instrument -- instrument number 3 in PP's armory, and not frequently used in rock records - the toy piano, played by Fuster. No rock band's ever been so kooky (or high) to give a half-grown object such as a toy piano the kind of importance given by the folks of PP. The toy piano has been extensively used and abused by PP, and is the only source of harmony on this record. Ironically, its infantile "pings" and "pongs" act as an anti-harmonizing element instead, which only makes the music more mischievous and canny.

It is not all that wise to relate the word "punk" to PP, but the word inevitably comes into the picture because of Fuster's vocals. His nasal voice and his insinuatingly passionate singing make room to draw obvious similarities between his singing style and that of the British punk acts of the late 70s, especially John Lydon (Johnny Rotten). Otherwise, although PP's music is all for rebellious angst, it doesn't justify being called "punk."

EP#2 is a fusion of new wave, punk, and post-grunge indie, a mantra for music adopted by a lot of upcoming underground bands lately. However, this trio of eccentric New Yorkers, with their ingenious use of unwieldy instruments, has interpreted these genres in a way that has never been done before. Moreover, even with the minimal use of instruments - not to mention their awkwardness - this outfit has managed to create a sound that has all the punch and grace of traditional guitar-based music.

Be it for its inventive use of bizarre instruments or for its versatility, PP is very original, not to mention talented. Whether or not the gass makes it big as an instrument remains to be seen, but PP surely is a band to look out for in the future.

[For more information on Proton Proton, visit www.protonproton.com]

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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