After reviewing music on Sea of Tranquility for more than 10 years (and even longer, if you count the now-defunct print version), I've heard some weird stuff. But I've got to say that Transit by mr sterile Assembly — an anarchist "outsider-punk noise experimental rock two-piece" from New Zealand — ranks up there with the oddest releases I've been asked to cover. This drums, bass and vocal duo consists of Chrissie Butler and mr sterile (of course), and they are assisted by a variety of other equally adventurous musicians, singers and lyricists. Cabaret jazz, carnival quirk, math rock and even hip-hop collide in a stormy cacophony of revolution.
But beneath the swarm of singing munchkins on "Jesus Heals the Blind" is a solemn anti-war message dedicated to "the growing list of the innocent and the dead," and "Pop Sickle" is an ode to those "who resist the war," with barely audible spoken-word lyrics set against a Violent Femmes-inspired beat. And the chaotic "Axe and the Olive Tree" is simply "for Palestine."
Transit comes in an elaborate digipak with two thick full-color booklets that might have cost more to produce than the album, but the low-budget cover featuring the duo in straitjackets and Kabuki makeup sitting on an ugly green-and-brown couch is distracting. This music is certainly not for everyone; in fact, I doubt Transit will get much playing time after I slip it back into its fancy packaging. But I certainly can appreciate the boldness with which Butler and mr sterile approach — and execute — their art.
2) Jesus Heals the Blind
3) I Robert
5) Pop Sickle
6) March of the Filfillmen
7) Bug My Ride
10) Axe and the Olive Tree