REVIEW: Various Artists – “I Said No Doctors!”

Ugh. Just ugh. What more can I say about the compilation I Said No Doctors!, which takes a good premise – what if we recorded an alt record with alt instruments? – and stumbles around before falling short of its goals.

The group String Noise impressively echoes Crumb, Oval has his moments, Dan Deacon comes close to stealing the show with the hammered pianos of his “Opal Toad Segment” and post-punk forefather David Grubbs deconstructs verses with the eerily-spare, improvised “Awkward Silences I Have Known,” but the only other tracks I find myself repeating are the Bizarro-world pop of Bismuth’s “Cola Kid” and Slumberland’s “Hunting Hunting.” Lots of missed opportunity here.

A handful of tracks, like GOTgsb’s “The Interconvertible Three” go nowhere, at their best, and linger nowhere, at their worst. Others, like Senyawa’s “Anak Kijang,” with its tonal chants over sawed strings, are enticing ideas not executed to perfection.

So, so, so? If you’re looking for a window onto the world of experimental instruments, grab Gravikords, Whirlies & Pyrophones, or its cousin, Orbitones, Spoon Harps & Bellowphones, instead. You’ll be better for it.

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About the author

Justin Vellucci is a staff writer for PopMatters, Spectrum Culture, and MusicTAP, a contributor to Pittsburgh Current, and a former staffer for Popdose, Punk Planet and Delusions of Adequacy. His music writing has appeared in national magazines such as American Songwriter, alt-pubs like The Brooklyn Rail, Pittsburgh CityPaper and San Diego CityBeat, blogs Swordfish, Punksburgh and Linoleum, and the Gannett magazine Jetty. He lives in Pittsburgh.

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