Like a pipe cleaner snaking through the serpentine passageways of my mind, Orange 9MM’s new disc proves to be a godsend for this overworked academic. Feeling like Ed Norton’s character in Fight Club or Nicholas Cage’s in Bringing Out the Dead, my psyche has been feeling the trauma of a society that is emotionally cold to the touch yet scorched from the mass of information burning its collective synapses. This band’s third full-length release is a powerful cathartic release. On Pretend I’m Human, Orange 9MM breaks out their new tighter lineup of vocalist Chaka Malik, guitarist Taylor McLam, and drummer Matthew Cross. On the song “Tightrope” Malik plaintively sings: “I wish I could see your future”; well, likewise I hope my vision for Orange 9MM’s future will come true. I’ve been looking for a band that can incorporate various musical genres. Bands that have their fingers on the pulse of society and realize that working in one medium or genre is not the way to express or address contemporary concerns. There are some good candidates, DJ Spooky, John Zorn, Laurie Anderson and Blue Dog, have all put out good examples of blending genres, but, while playing technically brilliant music, they lacked that sense of unleashed chaos associated with gutwrenching, kick ass rock (of course Bill Laswell is the master of all—but his is more of a world-wide collaboration). Orange 9MM explodes the boundaries and re-invents the relationships of hip-hop, hard rock, melodic pop, and aggressive punk. When they chant “pretend I’m human” in the title song I find myself wondering…because not only do they churn out blistering tunes, they also back it up with powerful lyrics.
Lyrics that carry political/social commentary that doesn’t drown out the spontaneity of the music—think Suicidal Tendencies, Public Enemy, or Living Color. Get this record now and force it upon strangers so that Orange 9MM will escape that pit of obscurity that our mediocre society condemns those who are truly innovative and original. I’ll end this with their own words from “Dragons (You Know That I Love You)”: “We’re such dragons. Maybe if I loved myself more I could stand to look myself in the eyes…With my eyes I remind you of the scars only seen by God…” Orange 9MM seems to have tapped into the fears, hopes, and frustrations that are raging in contemporary America.