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The Eternals

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Album Review

The Eternals' impressive debut could just as easily be entitled "Sondheim in Dub" or "The Congos Meet the Headhunters Inna Midwest Soundclash." That alone should separate this from the remainder of Chicago-based records that feature the studio skills of John McEntire and Casey Rice. It could also be called the fifth Trenchmouth record; multi-instrumentalists Damon Locks and Wayne Montana were in that relatively rock-oriented (but still utterly unclassifiable) outfit together. Where their first three albums flirted with dub, their swan song was a bear hug. The extension served here is pretty logical, with a couple key developments. The just-as-central rhythms are more slackened, not as taut. Odd keyboard noises and random effects duke it out with the bass/drum axis, but the anchor is never lost. Locks has either seen a voice coach or is making a deliberate attempt to be more of a "proper vocalist" by using his voice in a more melodic and ranging sense; on "Eternally Yours," he even seems to sing a lost jazz standard. The loose vibe throughout is best indicated by "Stirring Up Weather"; it holds the record's fastest tempo, however it falls very short of being considered speedy on its own. Don't expect to enjoy the album if you're in a hurry or want to spin on your head. The sound might be thick, but it's not exactly molasses either — it's flows more like a constant faucet. There's simply too much going on to push the record into the background, although its leisurely pace can also work on a subliminal level. If anything, give them credit for resisting the need to title a song "Captain Beefheart Dub Plate."


Formed: Chicago, IL

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Truly warped funk/dub ensemble the Eternals combined the talents of Damon Locks (vocals, keyboards, special EFX), Wayne Montana (bass, melodica, guitar, keyboards), and Dan Fliegel (percussion, guitar, keyboards). Montana and Locks spent years together in the overlooked Trenchmouth, and Fliegel spent time with members of Tortoise as Tom Zé's backing band during touring. Much like Trenchmouth, but with less emphasis on guitar, the Chicago-based Eternals threw together a number of influences -- from...
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The Eternals, The Eternals
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