Bolides Over Basra
By: Eric G.
Men’s Recovery Project is the warped brainchild of ex-Born Against members, Sam McPheeters and Neil Burke. The band has released eleven records on seven different labels since the demise of Born Against in the early nineties but has never released a proper full-length until now. McPheeters and Burke hooked up with Six Finger Satellite’s J. Ryan and Rick Pelletier for Bolides Over Basra, a self-proclaimed collection of songs “of the middle east, touching on: water use negotiations, illegal detention, deception and loss, airport security, North African cuisine, missing merchandise, Persian nightlife, assassination ennui, secret monkey auctions, depression and denial, general wretchedness, shit and filth, public leprosy and advanced clap.” And they aren’t kidding.
Bolides Over Basra finds Men’s Recovery Project using the same formula of creepy melodies, half-shrieked/half spoken vocals, deliberately outdated synthetics, and general disdain for cohesive structure as on past releases- the difference, this time, being the “foreign” languages and seemingly thematic subject matter. Guitar lines are shrill and splayed against distorted electric rhythms. J. Ryan lends his own paranoid screech to several tracks. The music has a very claustrophobic effect; everything sounds microscopic but noisy all the same. Tracks like “In Khartoum” and “Boums To Zanzibar” very much resemble Six Finger Satellite’s Machine Cuisine EP with a demented, Devo-ish sound and spoken word horror to boot. On “The Olive Salesman”, Men’s Recovery Project makes the absurd sound frantic and desperate: “the olive salesman looks side to side/he definitely seems nervous/has he something to hide?” Random blips and beeps squeal in the background while the rhythm section pummels away at the same riff over and over. Unlike Ween, who fall all over themselves laughing, Men’s Recovery Project never even cracks a smile.
McPheeteers and Burke have much in common with Six Finger Satellite; Both bands explore mania through noise- Men’s Recovery Project through electronic noise and Six Finger Satellite through guitar noise. Bolides Over Basra is hard to imagine being the work of ex-members of Born Against- a band that had a crushing effect on the hardcore scene almost a decade ago, spawning countless bands in its wake (Young Pioneers, The Great Unraveling, Universal Order Of Armageddon, etc.). Men’s Recovery Project may not be hardcore or even evoke the same kind of loyalty that hardcore fans are known for, but the music is just as uncompromising. Plus, it sounds like Kraftwerk on crack.