No Doctors – Origin & Tectonics

No Doctors
Origin & Tectonics

Back in the day of Professors Bangs, Tosches, and Meltzer, when the booze ran low they would replenish their stock by selling records, after reviewing them based on their cover art. If one were to do the same with No Doctors’ Origins & Tectonics a pretty interesting essay could be had. That is if you received the promo copy. This particular album arrived in a slim CD case hand painted by what appeared to be a kindergartener, all streaked in blues and whites and reds, with an odd silver gnome shaped silhouette . There was also a substantial amount of dirt and hair dug into the corner of the case. Instantly thoughts of crazed noise rock, squalling guitars, and maybe even some middle earth themed lyrics came to mind. Thankfully I’m not as dependent on the stimulants as our forefathers in rock-crit and decided to see how accurate my prediction was.

As you can see the cover art I received is not the same as you would get upon ordering this album. This is just one of the rather misleading things about No Doctors. The beginnings of the quartet are somewhat shady; beginning in Minnesota and then making their way to San Francisco, they portray themselves as avant noise rock, recording with Nautical Almanac and sharing practice spaces with Deerhoof. Ultimately though, the stories around the noiseniks are far more weird than the music. Case in point the gnome figure is some sort of creation called CLXPAS, or that’s what I’m lead to believe. It gets a little hazy according to the obviously self penned Wikipedia entry. This creature appears on the actual album cover calling forth the skronksters from high atop a mountain in some sort of strange universe. What it all means I have not a clue but it calls to mind something more Zeppelin than Devo’s progressive Booji Boy.

Why all this is misleading and, in a way, disappointing is because the music is really quite, um, well, normal. The saxophone is closer to Clarence Clemons or Morphine than John Zorn, following either guitar or bass lines as melodies unravel. “Lost In The Fog” is glorious little mess of sax bleating but really a catchy little ditty. Closing number “Is An Opal” is quite the pop tune as well, polite descending bass lines and a chorus of “cause I love you, baby!” Doesn’t sound very freaked out to me.

No Doctors’ adopted home of San Francisco shows up on occasional tripped out Nuggets psych rock moments and in singer Chauncey Chaumpers who at times can sound a bit like Mike Patton. This creates a sound that doesn’t quite gel however. Guitars and drums are often too thin to support the deep croon of Chaumpers leaving a disjointed and unsettling feeling. Perhaps this is what makes them idiot-avants. Despite not quite living up to the claims, Origins & Tectonics isn’t quite like anything out there. It’s not noise enough to be noise rock and not completely tuneful to be any sort of saccharine listening experience.