Adrian Cooper has been unwell

Old reviews that are no longer available online, or from sites that no longer exist. The pen is dead, long live the camera.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Check Engine
'Check Engine'

Every now and then, a band comes along that completely blows your mind; a band that leaves you desperately searching for the superlative that sums up how they make you feel; that leaves you grasping the edge of your seat and gasping for air. Check Engine have just become that band.

As with most bands that take your breath away so succinctly, they remind of many people, yet you fail to find a comparison that fits just right. There’s more than a hint of Sweep the Leg Johnny – hardly surprising when Check Engine can count Sweep’s very own Steve Sostak and Chris Daly among their number – but Check Engine fit songs into 30 minutes where Sweep would have found room for only four. Essentially, they’re a jazz-punk band in a similar manner to Soeza, but while Soeza seem to draw from the swing of New Orleans, Check Engine owe much to the frantic sounds of New York. Let’s just say that they sound like Ornette Coleman and Sonny Rollins locked in a room with Fugazi and leave it at that.

Rhythms shift at random, the guitars are calm and sedate one moment; at each other’s throat the next, while the saxophone spirals through exuberance and despair as the mood takes it. But Check Engine never stray into unlistenable territory, their songs are never unwieldy, just their titles (‘She Asked Me Some Questions & I Answered Them’, ‘So, We’ve Got Balls Can Balls, What Else We Got?’).

Check Engine are like a David Lynch film. They make the complex sound simple, and turn the simple into something very complex indeed. They don’t always make sense first time round. But the more effort you put in, the more you find. The incomprehensible tempo changes and disparate vocals begin to come clear. And then the more that you find, the more you realise that this is a record that you will hold onto forever.