Truth Button by KingBathmat
Sometimes a band comes along that defies categorisation. KBm are such an animal. From the first listen the album aroused my curiosity and I strived in vain to ‘place’ it in my comfortable world of musical genres. That I failed to do so after repeated attempts is a testament to the diversity within Truth Button. As a result it’s taken me a long time to write this review (I’ve thought of little else for the last week!)
KBm are the brainchild of John Bassett, based in the UK. Truth Button is the band’s sixth album since 2003. I will be honest enough to say I had never heard of KBm before, so this was my first experience of their quite unique sound.
Truth Button has a loose concept and in the band’s words:
“…deals with an underlying theme of technophobia and social disconnection due to the ever-growing trivial use of modern technology”.
The frequent pressing of computer buttons has led to the creation of an illusory world but through the ‘Truth Button’ we can, if we wish, attempt to connect with the real world.
This theme is clearly referred to in some of the song titles and accompanying lyrics.
The mix of musical styles is eclectic and melded into an original sound. There’s a bit of Queen here and maybe Black Sabbath there and smatterings of indie and alternative rock (Queens of the Stone Age). At times the lead and bass guitar riffs are very grungy (Tool/Nirvana). And they throw in a bit of Radiohead and Muse. The vocals however are generally light and punctuated with some nice harmonies.
The shortest track is around 6 mins and the longest at over 10 minutes. There are only 6 tracks and the cd is over 50 minutes in length. So each is given a chance to develop , with changes in direction that are unpredictable at times, but they are all the better for it.
1. Behind The Wall 9:18
An interesting mix of grungy/metal riffs and more standard Prog vocals and keyboards. The heavy guitar intro is very anthemic but the song quickly moves into a much slower tempo, with echo-laden guitar, warm vocals and occasional harmonies. Half way through the song is driven along by an excellent base line. All in all a great opening track.
2. Abintra 8:39
The first section of this track could have been written by Kurt Cobain with its grungy lead and bass guitar lines. The mood is dark and plaintive. Slightly menacing keyboards complement this feel.
After about 3 and a half minutes there is a clear change in the song’s direction as we move into more melodic, dreamlike territory before returning to the song’s initial heavier theme.
3. Book Of Faces 7:08
A fast tempo is maintained throughout, with echoes of QOTSA but without the same ferocity or attitude. The chorus has a rather hallucinatory feel with nice harmonies and effective string synths (I think!).
4. The End Of Evolution 9:02
One helluva track with swirling, atmospheric keyboards and crunchy guitar riffs. A personal favourite.
5. Dives and Pauper 5:56
Following a ‘ticking clock’ intro, the track is driven along by distorted guitar(s) at a fast tempo. An ‘oriental’ violin effect (synth, I presume) is introduced and interwoven with more guitar. This is the one track that doesn’t quite work for me but, hell, its intriguing stuff.
6. Coming to terms with reality in the face of insurmountable odds 10:30
Another heavy guitar intro moves quickly into a ‘fairy-tale like’ ticking clock/musical box effect, accompanied by dripping water! Harmonised vocals ensue. The track increases in tempo with a variety of superb guitar riffs and ‘70s’ sounding keyboards. At 7.40 the tempo slows down as a deeply toned, melancholic piano is introduced followed by a simple guitar melody and rolling bass-line and keyboards. The track finishes with a piano reprise. Another very individualistic piece and simply a great listen.
Truth Button is definitely for those who can accommodate a mix of heavy guitar orientated and more traditional keyboard sound plus some harmonised vocals. So, at times, a rather peculiar mix but one that works. There is nothing too complicated in structure or sound for the ear to handle; nothing too long and there’s no pomposity here. Musically very diverse; partially eccentric and experimental and definitely creative and fun to listen to. This is an unusual album that benefits from repeated listens.
My recommendation is, BUY THIS ALBUM and support this unusual sounding band. I will check out their back-catalogue and I am curious to see them live. For me this is a great start to another year of my musical journey. And what a great name for a band.