Immaculate Contraption

Bentmen

Sound Museum Records, 2000

http://www.bentmen.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/01/2001

Imagine, for a moment, that Blue Man Group took off their makeup, only to reveal themselves as a combination of The Residents and GWAR (albeit with no scatalogical references). I think you'd be close to describing who Bentmen are... and even that isn't quite adequate to cover all bases.

Their third CD, Immaculate Contraption, is a bizarre collage of music and vocal imagery that is sure to send listeners hoping for something more stable scurrying for cover. If, however, you make sure your seat belt is fastened and you hang on for dear life to the guard rail, you just might find parts of this disc to be an enjoyable ride.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Fronted by vocalist Des (who also wears the titles of lyricist and "master of ceremonies"), Bentmen seem eager to take typical song structure and butcher it with a chainsaw. It's kind of like KMFDM meeting Nine Inch Nails in a blender - cripes, stop me before I comparison shop again!

The weirdness, though, occasionally seems to have its place as the music helps to tie all the loose ends together. Tracks like "My Sister's Eyes," "Boy / Girl," "Holy Man" and "Lobster Bib" all do have more than a few moments where Bentmen prove there is method to the madness. Dare I say it, there even seems to evolve from the nonsense soup a sense of structure and form - which, fittingly, collapses in upon itself at the conclusion of each song.

A few songs do occasionally grate on the nerves ("Flatfoot," "Antithesis"), but I guess this is to be expected when you play with the laws of musical nature. And I'd be lying if I said this is the kind of disc that will please everyone. To understand what Bentmen are trying to accomplish means that you have to be more adventurous in your musical adventures, and willing to try new things. Bentmen make sure you get more than the recommended daily amount of musical variety, that's for sure.

But it's too easy to write Immaculate Contraption off as a novelty disc - as it most certainly is not a humorous listen. I don't claim to have full understanding of this disc yet, but there does seem to be something underlying all the crazed imagery, and if you can decipher that, I'm willing to bet you're in for a bigger treat than you would be if you simply liked the music.

Immaculate Contraption is a strange, yet occasionally wonderful listen that challenges the listener and stimulates their minds. It's not the normal way you'd spend 40 minutes in front of the stereo... and I think that was Bentmen's goal all along.

Rating: B-

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© 2001 Christopher Thelen 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 Sound Museum Records, and is used for informational purposes only.