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Chicken Switch


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Album Review

As outlandish as Melvins records tend to be, Chicken Switch surpasses expectations. As if remixing the grunge pioneers' baritone vocals and chunky guitar isn't a bizarre notion to begin with, the chosen contributors weren't taken from the typical pool of electronic DJs (no Justice or Girl Talk here!). These are the guitar-slinging, experimental/noise variety of remixers, with Matmos, Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo, the Boredoms' Yamatsuka Eye, Acid Mothers Temple's Kawabata Makota, and noise icon Merzbow doing the cutting and tweaking. Stranger still is the fact that these artists aren't reworking particular songs, but instead are each using a full album's worth of material (or more) to deconstruct and rework into a single track. Usually the material is warped beyond recognition. It's difficult to tell what album spawned Merzbow's song, since it's rendered indecipherable by a wall of trebly distortion and static. Meanwhile, for "P***k Concrète/Revolution M," onetime Melvin David Scott Stone elongates a bassy Buzzo a cappella into three minutes of whale-like throat singing. Lee Ranaldo's "Eggnog Trilogy" is one of the few tracks that actual feels like a real song with an actual backbeat — although, like the rest of the album and most of the Melvins' back catalog, it's disturbingly choppy and at times frightening. Chicken Switch is a punishing, twisted mess — and in that aspect, it remains true to the warped Melvins aesthetic, and fans will probably eat it up. Even diehards may find it hard to decipher the source material, but the wealth of creativity on board is highly admirable.

Customer Reviews

The Weirdest Remix Album to Exist

This is actually a great album. Probably the best remix album ever. (Nine Inch Nails has some good ones.) It's just weird and hard to explain, though.
The Melvins actually consider this a studio album. Well, they might as well, because these tracks are remixed so much, they're unrecognizable. Does that make it bad? No. It doesn't, actually. It actually makes the album more effective and gives it a longer lifespan. I'll be listening to this trying to figure out just what the hell it is for years. That's good if I'm listening to it for that long even if it confuses me. I might be making it sound bad, and scaring away possible or new Melvins fans, but I gave the album five stars, and here's the reason. While most of the tracks are just noise loops, some are "friendlier", if you would. The Eggnog Trilogy is probably the strongest song on the album. It just so happens to be remixed by Sonic Youth guitarist and vocalist, Lee Ranaldo. Enough said there.
I also want to point out the album art. It's amazing. That was enough to get me to buy this album. Go to the Melvins website right now and you'll see they have updated the apperance. (Look at the date. Obviously if you read this next year, you probably won't see what I'm talking about.) Instead of the pirhannas, you get a bizzare inverted image.
A hardcore Melvins fan SHOULD own this album. You don't have to, though. I could see not wanting it because it's so different, but it grows on you after a while. This, however is maybe my favorite Melvins release in the past ten years. A very enjoyable album that should hold fans over untill their next release and longer.

Hope A Volume 2 Is In The Works

After as much I've listened to this band's extensive catalogue, Chicken Switch is a reward of sorts. It was fun trying to decipher what songs I was hearing, still only a few uncovered too. While a few of the remixes are hit or miss, a good handful of them are quite moving. My personal fav is Sunroof's 'The Silky Apple Butter of Youth', or the trippy 'Linkshänder' which opens a nice vista of echoey electronica. Chicken Switch is a good Melvins album for those of us who've been seriously immersed in their stuff. Otherwise, steer clear.


Formed: 1985 in Aberdeen, WA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The Melvins were the first post-punk band to revel in the slow, sludgy sounds of Black Sabbath. Their music is oppressively slow and heavy, only without any of the silly mystical lyrics or the indulgent guitar solos; it's just one massive, oozing pile of dark slime. The Melvins' first record was released in 1987; they've released many albums since then, but it wasn't until 1993 that they went to a major label, thanks to their protégé, Kurt Cobain....
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