Arab on Radar – Yahweh or the Highway

Arab on Radar
Yahweh or the Highway

I have to admit that Yahweh or the Highway was a very ? well, interesting listening experience. I didn’t necessarily find what I heard pleasing to my ears, but something about the completely primal and brutally honest nature of Arab on Radar had me completely interested in this train wreck of a recording. That’s just the thing about Yahweh or the Highway – I get the feeling that I’m drawn to this disc in the same way I would be drawn to slowly drive by a traffic accident, gawking to see if there’s any gore to be had. I mean, I don’t necessarily know why I’m looking, because I already know that I’m going to be thoroughly repulsed whatever I see ? I just know that my dumb ass keeps on slowing down and craning my neck to get a better view.

My cat is currently sitting on my computer monitor, looking at me as if to say, “Dammit, turn this CD off already.” She’s right, really – for about four days now, I’ve listened to Yahweh or the Highway at least three or four times a day, trying to make some sense of it. I keep getting this nagging feeling that there’s some kind of underlying thought process to this disc that I’m completely missing out on, sort of like the band is throwing out this huge, elaborate joke and I just don’t get it.

The guitars are very dissonant, both with each other and with the rhythm section over these eight tracks. For most of the disc, the bass and drums create some pretty solid, thumping beats, but all the while the guitars bound and shred all over the place like a monkey tossing its own feces around. At times, this creates some neat textures, but more often than not it just makes for a lot of screechy listening. The singer’s got a pretty unique nasal whine quality to his voice, but in all honesty, the vocals here might as well just be another scratchy guitar that can’t find a way into the mix comfortably.

Speaking of the singer, the lyrics to Yahweh or the Highway are what really make me feel like something here is going way over my head. It seems that the Arab on Radar lads have quite the penchant for sexual banter. Allow me to prepare my speaking voice and recite some of the more poetic lyrics:

“Sometimes, I just gotta jerk off / My nuts are a pressure cooker” (from “My Mind is a Muffler”)
“I’ve longed to smuggle my sperm across that border?Fillin’ her belly button up with my purpose?They claimed I blew the neighborhood bully / I just wanted to compare his length to mine” (from “Cocaine Mummy”)
“Your kids will dream about their teachers’ muffs” (from “Semen on the Mount”)

Now, as misogynistic as these lyrics first appeared when I took time to browse over them, I’m fairly certain that none of the lyrical observations made on Yahweh or the Highway are meant to be taken seriously. I’m assuming that there’s a large grain of salt to go along with all of this, even though I can honestly say that I’m just not catching on to what it is.

See, the problem with this review is me. I’m just at a loss to find an observation point for Arab on Radar. Musically, I guess it creates the right mood of controlled chaos that noise rock generally aims for. Still, I’m just not sold. Granted, there are some amusing moments on the disc, as “Ejaculation is a waste of valuable resources!” has become one of my favorite lyrics ever, and the ending to “Vatican is up to Bat” again slays me because it reminds me of the midi that played during the ‘Level’ scenes of the original Legend of Zelda. Otherwise, though, I just can’t recommend Yahweh or the Highway with a good conscience. I just can’t get into a CD that leaves me scratching my head, wondering if I got the joke, or if there was even ever a joke at all.