Review: Green Milk from the Planet Orange – “City Calls Revolution”

As introductions go, the beginning of the first track off Green Milk from the Planet Orange’s City Calls Revolution is cloaked in deception. It starts with a faint, echoing electronic pulse, the almost distant flutter of a mutated telephone isolated in outer space, and slowly unfurls to include a pensive bass figure, plucked out with an almost muted sense of calm and no foreshadowing of the fury that lies ahead.

More than three minutes in, the spreading pulse-scales and bass are greeted only with chiming guitars cluttering the foreground. Then, without so much as a farewell, the whole sequence is kicked to the rear as the trio launches full-throttle into the scorching, wah-fueled jazz/prog-punk of the record�s nearly 20-minute-long “Concrete City Breakdown.”

From here on out, Green Milk from the Planet Orange seems to be telling us from the outset, it’s not a matter of how suddenly we can bring a curious brew of progressive rock, acid-laced jazz freakouts, and grindcore spasms to a boil. It’s about how long we can sustain an eruption.

The answer will impress — and maybe even amaze — you. The Japanese trio, whose three members all work under curt pseudonyms (dead k, A, T), perform with a vitality and calculated abandon often injected into songs far more abbreviated than the four epic tracks on City Calls Revolution, but their ability to prolong that sense of explosiveness can feel almost uncanny. There’s a clear depth to the proceedings, an attention to pace, structure, and craft that calls to mind some prog-rock greats and ambitious jazz precedents, but, above it all, the energy is like a drug.

And Green Milk from the Planet Orange damn well knows it.

Once the disc stops spinning, you’ll be able to trace evidence of the sustained eruption back to every corner: from the way extended riffs of Hendrix guitar noodling or bullhorn barking return to the same aggressive hooks in “Concrete City Breakdown” to how dead k punches out the guitar refrains, mimicking both Steve Albini and the jazzy post-punk of Giddy Motors, over a slinky bassline that may be the definition of viscous in the pummeling “OMGS.”

The opening three minutes of “Demagog” could knock the angular surf-punk of early Hunchback and like-minded acts clear into next week. And, just when you think the trio can’t wrap itself around the verses and segues any tighter, they do just that and then some, calling to mind the high-octane jazz exercises of PAK’s recent Motel as much as the stop-on-a-dime attacks of Melvins and Melt-Banana or, well, King Crimson on massive doses of amphetamines.

The record-closing “A Day in the Planet Orange,” clocking in at some 38 minutes and change, is an epic monster in every imaginable sense of the word. It starts as a dirgy blues-rock workout complete with fuzzed-out Fender Jazz Bass scales and almost weeping Stevie Ray Vaughan-tinged guitar solos and then bubbles over into an angular prog-rock jam meltdown. (If these moments are predetermined or scripted beforehand, I demand to see the transcription.)

More than 20 minutes into the track, the trio collapses into a repeating lullaby of single bass notes, screeching guitar lines filtered through digital delay, and trembling cymbals before wandering through a fragile post-rock segue. Then, a sudden departure into spoken-word narration and found sounds. And, finally, a few violent and bizarre eruptions before the closing reprise. It is, true to what the trio lays out on City Calls Revolution, a strange and inviting end to a strange and inviting album.

If you want to know what planet these guys are coming from, you’re just going to have to hear it for yourself. – Delusions of Adequacy, March 24, 2006

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