The Feud – Language is Technology

The Feud
Language is Technology

Quirky instrumental rock is good stuff, indeed. Now, quirky can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, so for the sake of this release by The Feud, I’ll use the term as it relates to a band that shows flashes of mathy chord and rhythm progressions with flourishes of keyboards, synthesizers, and horns. However, at any given time, the band can be prone to breaking into spacey, atmospheric guitar passages, artsy-sounding more ‘difficult’ and dissonant structures or good old-fashioned balls-out rock at any given moment. That, in a nutshell, defines the quirkiness of Language is Technology.
At times, this quirkiness shines through as sheer brilliance, while at others, it seems as if the band’s collective musical head gets a bit clouded by delusions of grandeur. At its lowest points (which, admittedly, are few and far between), The Feud does manage to sound downright disorganized and directionless. The one thing that Language is Technology does have going for it, however, is the fact that both the good and the bad are equally tolerable thanks to the frequent rhythmic twists and turns that The Feud has assembled.
Disc opener “N’finite Rug” sounds like it’ll start out as a synthesizer workout looped around a lazy guitar jangle, but within seconds a round of drums and spacey, dreamy guitars overtake the song as a hyperactive bassline lays siege to the song. From there, the band gets a bit adventurous, but that unexpectedly strong opening is enough to hold an attention span through the rest of this winding 5 1/2-minute track. “Tidy Sum” rolls out a rocking rhythm with some dirty guitars and thick bass noise, though the ears are automatically drawn to the El Guapo-esque horn bleating that sits just above the rhythm track. During a mid-song breakdown, the rhythm gets a bit funky while the horn does its thing in a rhythmic solo that stands out in a uniquely positive way. When the horn drops out of the track in spots, though, this underlying attitude here is full of good old dirty, dirty rock action.
The standout track on Language is Technology is the way-out-in-left-field “Curdins Haylyn,” which opens on a bed of drums and xylophone (!) before breaking out into some thick, atmospheric guitar goodness. The rhythm guitars here are super-duper reminiscent of Dinosaur Jr. a la You’re Living All Over Me, and the horn, xylophone, and keyboard parts make the track so interestingly layered that trying to separate the different components of the song is like watching 22 clowns peel themselves out of a two-seater Fiero. It doesn’t get much more ‘quirky’ than this, but The Feud manages to pull this one off well. “Le Passion de Noam Jamski” comes off like a toned-down version of Sweep the Leg Johnny, as the guitars bump from dirty to noisy as the horn part disappears and reappears from the song. The track even features one of those creepy, deliberate ‘Sweep-quality’ breakdowns worthy of a really freaky scary movie soundtrack.
Bonus points go to “Don’t Be Such a F*cking Harness, Joyce” for it’s absurdly laugh-out-loud title, though the song itself is no slouch, combining an almost jazzy rhythm with a stepped rhythm guitar piece and some more flourished, melodic playing over top of that. “Joyce” works wonders for toe-tapping when the mix gets ‘busied up,’ with the bass lunging all over the place while the guitars pick up intensity, creating this musical model of controlled mayhem. This is probably the closest thing to an actual straight-up rock track that The Feud offers here, and while it lacks the creativity of “Curdins Haylyn,” it’s still damn good stuff. “X YR Fingers for the Young Ghost Allegiance” sounds like the Dismemberment Plan and Gang of Four melded on speed, with it’s driving rhythm and it’s ever-so sharp rhythm guitar cuts.
None of the nine tracks that make up Language is Technology are beyond listenable or anything, though the 10-minute album closer, “There is No Sleep / Desized” does seem to get a bit grating in one or two spots. Still, though, there’s no faulting The Feud for creating an album where the only real expectation for the listener is that there’s no one set sound or concept to expect. This record is all over the place – there are horns and synths and keys and guitars and, for the love of music, a xylophone bit just stuffed into nooks and crannies all over the place in the mix. Language is Technology is much more active than straight-up rock, but it seems more intelligent, engaging, and energetic than art rock and too well structured for noise rock. In spots, this disc can be a difficult listen, though as a whole, this is quite a project. I wish all bands’ ‘quirks’ were as entertaining as The Feud’s – file this one under ‘prog rock for the future.’