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(Hydra Head; US: 5 Feb 2008; UK: 4 Feb 2008)

I’ve heard a lot of pointless music unfit for human consumption in my day (the Paris Hilton debut immediately comes to mind) and the work of Mick Barr is now highly ranked on that shameful list. The former Flying Luttenbacher’s latest release under the name Ocrilim is a series of modern classical pieces composed entirely for the whiny metal guitar (artcore?). I use the word “composed” lightly because Annwn is really just a solid hour of break-neck, purposeless pointless soloing on a six string or three.

I work at a music store, if you can believe writing doesn’t sustain my toad licking excuse for a lifestyle. There’s this kid who drops by constantly but never buys anything. He just plugs in and solos wildly for up to three hours at a time without a riff, melody, or timing of any kind. Lord only knows what he thinks he’s doing (I’m sure in his mind he thinks he’s the next Steve Vai), but what he actually does in our joint reality is annoy the hell out of my fellow employees and scare off any customers who might want to try out and pay money for something. In the grand scheme of things—though Barr obviously has tremendous skill to play that fast while throwing in all those crazy variations—that kind of wanky nuisance is all Annwn achieves. Like the kid, this is directionless talent and ego played so good that it sucks. And yet, most indie press types seem afraid to admit this is mindless masturbation lest their credentials be sullied, as if being able to stomach this music is a feather in their pimp cap. Pitchforkmedia closed their review of his last album by saying; “Fatigue demands only so many listens before taking a long break. It will not be something [they] return to often, but that will be out of respect.” Seriously, respect aside, what is there to enjoy about this incredibly fatiguing music that you can’t get from a jackhammer and a table saw?


Author of blurbs, curator of playlists, and booker of shows, Alan Ranta has been plugging away at that music writing and programming thing since 2004. His brutally honest critical opinion has appeared in such publications as Exclaim!, CBC Music, PopMatters and Tiny Mix Tapes, and has been enlisted to help judge the Polaris Music Prize, Pazz & Jop, and Juno Awards. Based in East Van, he graduated with a BFA in music from Simon Fraser University in 2012. He's also a social media plague, cat whisperer, socio-political haranguer, Canucks fan, and one of the last remaining cowboys.

Tagged as: ocrilim
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