Here at Orenda Records, we receive a lot of music to review for release consideration. But it's not every day that a tuba, guitar, drums trio crosses our desk - and it's even rarer to hear such a formation explode with the kind of commanding vigor and infectious levity that the LA/Brooklyn bicoastal band Evil Genius embodies. Steeped in genre bending, wry wit, and dazzling virtuosity, this trio’s impressive debut, Bitter Human, is like nothing you've ever heard, and might make you smile way more than you think.
“...every time I listen to it, I revel in it a little more. It is a coalescence of impulse and inspiration, leashed to a hyper-driven will that demands significance.” – MOUSER.com
Headed by Max Kutner, guitarist for the Zappa alumni band, The Grande Mothers Of Invention, and featuring one of the world’s most original and virtuosic tubists, Stefan Kac, as well as style-shifting powerhouse drummer, Mike Lockwood, Evil Genius is a sound unlike anything heard before. Their debut album, Bitter Human, is a shredded amalgamation of death metal, polka, thrash, swing, chamber music, progressive rock, klezmer, surf, musique concrete and other seemingly disparate styles that shifts and mutates spontaneously and in an unashamedly free fashion. When combined with distinctly cinematic melodies and not-so-subtle threads of dark humor, the band presents an original aesthetic that is always inclusive despite its complexity.
The album opens with the overwhelming “Blind Elephant's Green Felt Jungle Dance,” an ode to the overstimulation of first walking into a casino. “Juke Prompt” is somewhat like a lost gospel song, found in pieces, haphazardly re-glued and interpreted as a found art. As a contrast, Bitter Human offers non-frenetic moments in the sweetly lilting “Another Ale for the Gesture Urn,” menacingly lurking “Maneuver,” and the sentimental “For No Particular Reason.”
Bitter Human, as a total package, is aimed for an immersive experience both visually, literally and of course, aurally. A themed essay written for the liner notes by Melbourne-based journalist, Angela Allen, is simpatico with the themes of experimentation and humor, and several never-before seen paintings by Vanessa Himeles make up the package of the album. In line with the Orenda Records ethos of immersive experiential music and presentation, Evil Genius’s Bitter Human is a brilliant debut by one of America’s most distinctive trios.