The recent Yard Dogs Road Show at the Wilma Theatre featured an instrument called “the contraption”—an assortment of percussion, horns and other odd bits and pieces that one may not associate with music, but that shined in the context of the presentation. The Hellblinki Sextet is another kind of “contraption”—a clashing of sounds and ideas that somehow work, almost in spite of itself.
Of the 23 tracks on the band’s latest release, Oratory, only 11 are actual songs. The rest are interludes of odd instrumental bits or spoken word pieces that sound like answering machine messages. The entire collection—the “psycho cabaret,” as they call it—tells a rambling tale of death, war and zombies. In a darker sense, this band is closer to real Americana than most of today’s acts hitching themselves to that genre post.
The songs hold up to repeat listens, though the interludes become tiresome. A first listen is a lot of fun, if a little hard to follow. In future listens I’d revisit the music, which swings from jazzier numbers to punkified bluegrass. Fans of the Yard Dogs will love this, as will anyone with an ear for oddball art that brings to mind guns, mortality and trackside bonfires.
The Hellblinki Sextet plays the Badlander Wednesday, August 6, at 9 PM, with Smokestack and the Foothill Fury and Pete Brown. Cover TBA.