Rave Reviews for Utechma by Amy X Neuburg & Men
A full-size scan of the CD cover is available.
Utechma has gotten glowing reviews:
Musician Magazine, September 1996Though little known outside of San Francisco, Neuburg makes music whose dizzy mix of complexity, accessibility, and intensity are matched by few. For frame of reference, begin with Frank Zappa: Neuburg shares his fondness for percussive ostinati (the multiple marimbas of "Delirium"), and a willingness to segue from polyrhythmic snarls to straight-ahead riffing. She can bait a tune on the kind of hook that sinks and settles: "Into That Hole," with its synth peeps and drones, waterfalling guitars, and hypnotic whispered vocals, is a Cocteau Twins flashback, while the album's opening cut, "Chinatown," is a 9/8 tangle, with rhythms twining and loosening around dissonant guitars that blare like car horns in a traffic jam. On the title track, Amy rocks the rafters with a weird mix of Celtic pipe music, Nigerian pop, and film noir. Laurie Anderson would be proud.
But Neuburg's art is too diverse to be derivative. She has that rare gift of using sound and lyric to create a real sense of place. A techno-poppish tune, "Get That Camera Out of Here," stops suddenly, leaving a single synth tone hanging in the air; from this foundation Neuburg builds the next cut, "Fish," which seems to begin as the musings of a drowning victim. "That must be a police car 'cuz there's that sound/So I try to pull over but there's no ground," she sings over open space and chords that float like seaweed in the tides. Chaos and noise follow, but at the end we're left with a couple of wispy chords, an in-your-head guitar buzz, a water drip, and an affirmation that "I died laughing."
All this may seem a little pretentious, but Neuburg pulls it off with virtuosic aplomb. The MenÑguitarist and stick player Herb Heinz, percussionist Joel Davel, and keyboardist Tim RootÑace her arrangements with humor and discipline, while Amy darts from synth to drums and lays down vocals which betray a theatrical sensibility. Now and then the band erupts in spasmodic improvisations called "Man Jams," which seem to function as catharses for those who find Neuburg's charts too confining. But the music works best when she holds the reins and challenges the listener to hang on.
-Robert L. Doerschuk
Keyboard Magazine, August 1996I'm not sure how to describe this band, and that's a good sign. Neuburg and her cohorts play rock with attitude, but we're not talking power guitar strumming: The arrangements tend to be open and detailed rather than monolithic, and the band includes both Tim Root on keys and Joel Davel on MIDI mallets. (He doubles on Buchla Lightning, a wireless mallet system.) Neuburg herself does keys and drum programming too, and the guitar player doubles on Chapman Stock. "Money in the Sky" throws in a few bars of 7/8 to keep you off balance. "Herb Goes Downtown" recapitulates Captain Beefheart in 25 seconds. "Humility" presents Neuburg almost unaccompanied, singing an almost identical vocal part across several tracks over a background of subdued nightclub noises. The title track opens with a bagpipe dirge in which the men provide a yowling vocal drone, and then segues into a 3/4 Latin groove complete with a cheesy Farfisa organ break. Strange enough to leave you wondering, but by no means devoid of hooks. More! More! (Racer Records, 1-800-572-2375; Amy X Neuburg & Men, IS Productions, Box 3856, Oakland, CA 94609)
Electronic Musician, August 1996
Twisted Sister & Misters
Neuburg and Men wreak electronic havoc.
For many composers, the allure of creating electronic music lies in
exploring new, uncharted realms of self-expression. These musicians
use current technology to break from the molds of the past: they
program new sounds, work in different tunings, and often abandon
traditional song structures. On her new album, Utechma, Amy X
Neuburg embraces the infinite possibilities of electronic music but
does so with a knowing nod to the past.