Radicals are all around us every day, breaking our bodies down atom by atom. This is the bad news. The good news is that it you don’t have to waste away in monotony! If you’re looking to degrade yourself in a more sunglassed-freak-out manner, might I suggest popping in this Silver Bullets tape “Free Radicals”? You will find your brain under massive decay in just a few minutes.
This tape is 11 songs long, so for the sake of time (yours and mine), I’ll just touch on some of my favorite moments. “Free Radicals” opens with this kind of chugging jam, rife with tambourine (you’re going to hear a lot of tamb on this album) and deep toms. These simple, heavy drum and bass iterations roll underneath the seemingly distant electric guitar shredding, altogether working to achieve this sound that mimics a Pink Floyd bootlegged jam session. It’s rather lo-fi, but that’s all part of the allure. The second track, “Flight from Babylon” was immediately a favorite of mine. It’s got a similar rhythmic vibe as the previous track does, but they’ve picked up the pace a bit and now the tambourines are working harder. There’s also this—shall I say ‘Babylonian’?—vibe to the song. It’s hard to make out if we’re hearing someone jamming on some kind of wind instrument or if that’s a synth or organ, but it takes the song to that level where you want to just keep hitting rewind to hear it again. Feel free to do that, by the way.
The ‘title-track’, “Free Radical” is another mind-flayer. Dare I use the word ‘infectious’? If ever there was a time, now is it. The song is basically a repetition of this immensely addictive riff—it just goes on and on, slowly changing with improvised subtleties and then returning back to its origin. When you listen to this, you’re going to want to get up and dance, and that’s completely OK. The final track on the tape, “Ascent”, is as apropos an ending for the album as any I could imagine. It maintains the radical vibe like the tracks before it, but it’s more slowed-down (conclusive, I suppose we could say). Maybe this is the epilogue to utter decay by way of “Free Radicals”. There is at least one oddball track on the tape, which sounds more like a total synthesizer’d journey into the clouds, but even here you get the lo-fi oversaturation of all tones and it’s just maybe the rhythm section taking a much-deserved smoke break. It’s still a fitting aural nugget in this bag of stoned jams.
“Free Radicals” does have all the ingredients (rich fuzz and wah pedal usage, lots of delay…and did I mention tambourine?) for a successfully freaky rock record, but they’re taking it over the top with their skillful execution of these addictive jams. This isn’t a major label release, and the recording sounds rather raw and lo-fi, but when it comes to the music, you are getting performance beyond the standard for the industry. We owe great thanks to Mr. Giacchi for mining the band’s sound and bringing ‘em back for us yanks. It is really too seldom that a tape like this is issued (though so appropriate for it to happen on Stunned). I hope Silver Bullets will return again soon. 8/10 -- Michael Jantz (11 June, 2009)