Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Show is the Rainbow , Gymnasia

Download: The Show is the Rainbow - "Do The Skinny"

The Show is The Rainbow
Gymnasia (Strictly Amateur, 2007)
Grade: B+

The Show is The Rainbow, aka Darren Keen, is a one-man band/live-show extravaganza, incorporating 80s-style Run D.M.C rapping with a confrontational punk attitude, sound effects that could have come from the NES version of The Legend of Zelda, drum machines, and noisy guitars with filthy, hilariously obscene lyrics. He manages to combine the profane with the good-natured, so that even if he offends you with, say, talking about sucking one's cum, you can still have a good time partying at one of his insanely explosive live shows.

One might think that the appeal of an act like The Show is the Rainbow would be all due to novelty - sure, the style is charming, but it's also lacking in any decent tunes that remain discernible after the initial curiosity factor wears off. One listen to his third release, Gymnasia, disproves any of these potential criticisms.

Songs like "Do The Skinny" (posted above) and "I'm The Decline" attack the listener with an assault of Keen's frenzied, almost screaming, rapping, with stuttering beats, dissonant guitar-chords and the aforementioned video game effects. The effect that Gymnasia has on the listener is an strange, but exhilarating one. The album reflects the chaotic nature of the live show, but also demonstrates the knack that Keen has for irresistible pop hooks.

"Gothic Cajun," for instance, begins with loopy programming effects and a drum machine that sounds like it should be dropping bombs before detouring into so many directions that trying to keep track of everything becomes an overwhelmingly awesome version of musical chairs. But instead of chairs, its with sounds.

I'm not sure if that made any sense whatsoever, so I will rephrase that last statement. The biggest pro, to the point where it becomes an slight con, is Keen's creativity with his computers and with his ability to manipulate sounds. He clearly is a master, but sometimes it can be a bit hard to tell where the songs are going. That, in turn, can make listening to the album a little frustrating at times.

However, that frustration, can, in and of itself, lead to an amazing experience. The breakdown in "Cajun" that ultimately leads back to the main refrain is jawdropping. but at the same time, you'd just wish the song would stay in one place for a while so you can finally get ahold of the wickedly funny words. But when you're listening to a record with a lot of boundless creativity, frustration is bound to happen.

That's small potatoes, though, as Gymnasia is still a really good record, even after the initial shock of the eclectic songs and sounds wears off. That's the key difference between an act with nothing but a gimmick to offer, and an artist trying to make all of the different ideas many ideas in his head gel. With Gymnasia, The Show is The Rainbow gets pretty damn close to fulfilling his stated desire to make a great record.

(Jonathan Graef)

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Blogger Annie said...

How was the show on Friday?

11:39 AM  
Blogger MPLSFR said...

Excellent, though brief. Darren is an awesome guy.

7:24 PM  

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