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splendid > reviews > 9/17/2004
The Mae Shi
The Mae Shi
Terrorbird
5 Rue Christine


Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "Repetition"

Buy me now
My copy of Terrorbird came with a mix CD: a 49-track cut 'n' paste of a few seconds each from about a thousand songs that the Mae Shi solicited from fans before going on tour. It's an interesting retrospective of, well, everything... from the Beatles to breakbeats, old-school country to electroclash. You have to hope that this consolidation isn't what the band actually took on the road with them (four guys and their equipment do take up a lot of van space). It doesn't sound like very good driving music.

Considering how ADHD-informed the Mae Shi's own music is, they'd probably be able to groove out on it from their hometown of LA all the way to NYC. Terrorbird is 41 minutes long and contains 33 songs; at three and a half minutes, the disc's lengthiest cut (the lo-fi bleep-and-squiggly "Jubilation") is practically an epic. A suite in five very brief movements, entitled "Repetition", closes the disc; all four band members gleefully tell us what we learn by (repetition, duh) against successive backdrops of garage rock, reversed guitar-and-Moog noodling, Casio dance beats and detuned piano with handclaps. Clever, these guys.

And eclectic, too. "Repetition" (all five of it) is pretty much a microcosm of the Mae Shi's sound: they swing wildly from blastbeats ("Terror Bird") to rudimentary bedroom electronica ("Jubilee", "Surf's Up") to crashingly quirky, one-minute rock 'n' roll jams ("Virgin's Diet, The Hand of Wolves"); the only common points are the copious screaming and the echoingly lo-fi aesthetic (Terrorbird was recorded for something like $120). Unless you're fifteen and were raised with a mouse constantly in hand, the Mae Shi can get overwhelming... but their saving graces (lots of genuine energy, naming their songs things like "Hieronymus Bosch is a Dead Man") charm you into liking them instead of wanting to go to LA, attend one of their shows and throw things at the stage.



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