Chokebore - A Taste for Bitters

There is nothing usual about Chokebore. From the name to their abstract lyrics, Chokebore is a one of a kind band. They play with the kind of conviction that can only be found in pure art. Nobody sounds like them and they sound like nobody. They are a tribute to every artist that ever took a chance with their work.

A Taste for Bitters is their third full length album. It was recorded in France while they were on tour in Europe. The great Amphetamine Reptile Records who have a roster of bands that aren't afraid to tread new water and push the limits of "rock" music released it in 1996 in the US.

This is a beautifully recorded album that captures the bands heavy to delicate dynamics. This element is obvious in the first song "Pacific Sleep Patterns" as the deliberate raps on the snare introduce the calculated and complex music. Troy Bruno von Balthazar's natural sense of melody is apparent as he weaves his words around strange chord changes and sparse movements. One of Chokebore's strengths (as if they lack any) is Balthazar's wonderful lyrics. On "Popular Modern Themes" he croons it's a thousand yards of tongues, a thousand yards of cheeks in every word I've said. Maybe a hint to not read too far into the hauntingly lonesome words.

Jonathan Kroll's delicate guitar line in "Ghosts, and the Swing of Things" creeps lightly through the vocal melody like a sleepwalker in an empty house. A true testament to the old adage, "less is more." On "Days of Nothing" we hear the band totally stripped down to just an acoustic guitar and vocals and sounds as if it was written as a soundtrack to some great lo-fi tragedy.

Songs "A Taste for Bitters," "Narrow," and "Sleep with Me" continue to showcase Chokebore's great musicianship. A Frank G and Christian Omar Madrigal Izzo are an incredible rhythm section. It is such a pleasure to hear the space that each person gives to everyone else on these songs.

The last words on the album are Isn't that right, you're let down. Well, I'm not sure what he's referring to, but it's surely not this record. A Taste for Bitters is an incredible piece of work. It documents the band at a time when they were touring heavily and playing together as a flawless unit. The words are confident and mature. The guitars are sensitive at times and raucous at others. The Drums and Bass rumble in time and keep the foundation strong. Chokebore is a great band and this is an essential album for anybody who believes in ART.

Noel P

Indie Rock Reviews (2007/07/12)