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Mark D - The Silent Treatment (Luna)

Mark D is like Al Gore - he does everything the hard way. Before joining the Melvins in 1991, he had been their sound engineer, and had founded Alchemy Records, the band's record label. Still not satisfied, the Texan graduate has decided to split with the Melvins after four albums, and record his solo debut The Silent Treatment. Downbeat riffs on the opener, 'Toshiro Mifune', give way to the guitar-driven noise of 'The Hobnail Paisley' and 'El Morocco'. 'One Thousand Delights' offers promising melody, but soon descends into unintelligible warbling, behind ever-loudening guitars that continue unabated in 'Chihuahua'.

The slow pace on the record slows further still, as peddling drums guide Mr. D though the aimless introspection of 'Coffinmakers Complaint'. The sub-Nine-Inch-Nails guitar sound walls return in 'Fat Hamlet'. Death riffs abound until a bizarre acoustic interlude is wedged into the song, only to end suddenly. Ditto 'The Hottentot Venus', where a gentler, dredging guitar procession is cleaved apart by a melodious solo that just fell into the track. Though any promise from these interludes of a half-way-point improvement is shot down by the return of dungeon metal in 'Borehole'. D's voice emerges only periodically from below the noise, only to be submerged again.

'Your Necklace', however, heralds a seachange, as the hard rock guitars are abandoned in favour of wah-wah soundloops and pointed drum beats. Mr. D's voice is ever dark and broody, but lyrics are becoming distinguishable: "I don't want to stray", he repeats, over and over. This mantra acts as a marker for 'Revelator' and 'A Catastrophe', where the guitar-like noise returns as unwelcomingly as its departure was feted. 'Honey Drop' is worse. As is becoming a tradition on this record, an utter change of tone arrives with 'Gateau D'Amour', the first apt song title yet. The music is bright, reminiscent of the Stone Roses, almost. The other tradition, of course, is the abrupt return to the cacophonous noiseblasts that have plagued this album. 'Van Diemen's Land' and 'Candlelight and Wisteria' duly oblige, to close "The Silent Treatment" where it began.

The promo material tells us that Mark D is soon to form a new band, The Mark D Volcano. Perhaps he has been soured by the Mark D solo experience, despite all the Gore-esque toil he underwent to get here. Or maybe it's just me.

Bill Lehane

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