REVIEW: Minus Story: Moebius Syndrome
Minus Story: Moebius Syndrome [Mercrider, 2002]
Three words? Music for broken-clocks.
Moebius Syndrome begins with lightly picked electric guitar and some marching percussion. "What do you have for me?" asks the listener. One expects a husky, intense male vocalist, or some guitar acrobatics. No. No. What the Minus Story has in store is something utterly different - double- and triple-tracked vocals, high-pitched, like the Body Snatchers' choir. They sing and squirm and speak in slow, bending voices. It's absolutely, utterly strange.
The rest of the disc is a little easier to understand. What soon becomes clear is that Minus Story, despite masquerading as a three-piece from Boonville, Missouri (and despite the photograph of three friendly-looking lads), is in fact a collective of Martians with a big crush on Modest Mouse. Minus Story sounds like the Mouse only in the way they disassemble their melodies, cracking chords and hooks open, letting them chug along like broken clockwork, splayed and frayed. The creature known as "Jordan Geiger" sings like Conor Oberst with Down syndrome. Occasionally he strays into open-mouthed bleats that recall Jeff Magnum, but for the most part Geiger's delivery is scratchy and broken, much like the fuzzy guitar purrs that surround him. Though many of these tunes bounce atop rhythmic guitar-crunches, Geiger, Christus and Philips somehow flatten them into backwards-sounding noise - more structure than content.
"School" throws chimes into the mix, creating something slow and almost beautiful - melancholia pressed between two rambling wails. "Found Me Out", with its tinkling guitars, soft melody and collapsed singing, sounds like the Shaggs are covering an alt.rock ballad. "Lula" is perhaps the album's most coherent song, and in listening to it one begins to understand a bit better where the group is coming from. There's a touch of early Nirvana here - that same frustration and ugly rural noise - but moreso there's the Kingsmen and their peers in the Garage scene of the sixties and seventies. It's proto-Velvets, proto-Jon Spencer.
Moebius Syndrome is broken music; broken music struggling to reform and heal. Part fucked-folk, part twisted-garage, it's idiosyncratic and boggling, nonetheless moving, and an innovative, affecting debut LP.