The first full-length studio recording by the mathy Madison prog quartet is an achievement not only for the sounds the band have dreamed up, but also for the way they execute their vision.
The album begins with a groovy beat that draws you in, then goes silent, prompting you to check your speakers. The band uses this opportunity to blast drum-and-guitar fireworks directly into your ear canal. This isn't an instrumental showoff session or a goofy prank, however. Kitty Rhombus is introducing you to a sci-fi-style concept album about checking your head.
Sure, there's a track about teleportation ("Gas Station"), but the songs about illness - and escape from it - are perhaps the most interesting. Plus, the band's schizophrenic approach to genre breeds an album that illustrates perfectly some of the challenges a real schizophrenic might face.
On "A Minor," vocalist Ian Stenlund sounds like a manic street preacher, shouting about hospitals, tourniquets and tranquilizers, growling and shrieking for a few bars, then interrupting himself with exclamations - "Oh, sunshine, flowers!" - that are as exuberant as they are unexpected. Behind the vocalizing, a stream of sixteenth notes delves into many shades of dissonance and twists dark arpeggios into celebratory ones when Stenlund discovers sunshine.
"Coma" rocks an apocalyptic, Californication-meets-OK Computer vibe with the psychotic punch of a Jesus Lizard record. Stenlund's vocals, sung this time instead of spattered, James Chance-style, seem to float on a wave of paranoia, much like Thom Yorke's in "Paranoid Android." Pretty soon, the band's segueing from layered pop harmonies to funky jams to deranged circus waltzes at warp speed, never skipping a beat. The overall effect is bound to make you crazy - crazy for Kitty Rhombus.