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TODD — Big Ripper (CD, Riot Season)

Posted: January 17th, 2010, by Simon Minter

Todd’s first release in a couple of years is a giant sludgy beast, a collapsing timber mill of a record that the jaunty lumberjack on its sleeve can’t even hope to prepare you for. They’ve always been fearsomely loud, and sleazily proud, but this might just be the album on which they really got it together. It’s got the noise, distortion, mayhem and feedback that’ll be all too frighteningly familiar to any previous listeners, but on Big Ripper it’s wrapped up in an unexpectedly new and thoughtful package.

The album spends much of its time screaming into your brain and piling up freakish glimpses into a selection of dark places, but there is real structure and, dare I say it, artistry at work here. First track ‘Track Side Fire’ has an actual middle eight, and an almost conventional song structure, for example. ‘The (R)web’, as another case study, adds real texture and breaks down into a weird, random set of echoed notes, like honest-to-goodness proper experimental music. By the time we reach ‘French and in France’, a strange, slow-paced lurch of a song, echoed guitars and feedback squalls dropping in before disappearing away into a hallucinogenic struggle against noise, it suddenly becomes clear what’s going on here. Todd are traditional hard rock filtered through today’s post-everything musical landscape, slammed up against a wall of alcohol, drugs and unhealthy interests. They crunch and rock like violent thugs, but they’ve got hearts of black gold and dangerous, sharp brains ticking over on their collective back burner. Final track ‘French and out of France’ is the flipside to mayhem – a creepy, relentless, distorted stalker’s presence, that burrows into the floor as a final, belching digital pulse leading into silence. It’s a fittingly intense and confusing end to an album that refuses to ever do what you’d expect.

Todd on Myspace
Riot Season