Ctrl+Alt+Dstry

All your base are belong to Confusatron
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  January 20, 2010

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LONG-AWAITED: Confusatron’s new disc.

Maybe the thing that will keep your mind working the longest is pondering the question: "It took Confusatron seven years to make Ctrl+Alt+Dstry EXACTLY like this?"

The album, a long-awaited follow-up to Chewbacalypse Now by a rival for the title of Portland's most-respected-by-other-musicians band, is unquestionably a work of art. Bands like Dream Theater and other progressive metal might be cultural touchpoints, but really there isn't much like Confusatron. They are seriously silly, light-heartedly heavy, messily precise. Their song can take such manic twists and turns that it's difficult to understand how they keep it all straight, let alone make decisions like, "okay, the first clip from Surf Nazis Must Die comes in right at the 2:30 mark..."

There are four-beat jazz measures, surf-rock, Italian opera, Gilbert and Sullivan love songs, clip-clop cow punk — their musical palette is impossibly large — but the recurring dark themes (why are demons always depicted with ultra-low voices? Because they're underground?) and frequent use of breakneck speed and caustic noises makes them a bit of an acquired taste. Their title track has almost no cohesion whatsoever. There are times when they'd be hardcore, but you can never catch a riff you can headbang to. "No Ha Ochi," with its strings and lilting bits moving into a rockabilly, Western opera sort of thing, and then the audible audience that makes the song like listening to people watching a Western opera, really makes you rethink what is classical music.

Why do we choose the instruments and means of making music that we do? What are the boundaries of the instruments that we play? Those are the questions raised by drummer Adam Cogswell, guitarist Doug Porter, bassist Jason LaFrance, and a laptop named Tickles. Their creativity is as awe-inspiring as their playing.

Sam Pfeifle can be reached at sam_pfeifle@yahoo.com.

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