Exotic Animal Petting Zoo
Tree Of Tongues
07 May 2012
by Ruth Booth
Did you ever wake up from some wonderful, hyper-surreal dream, and every time you tried to explain it to someone, it all sounded a bit naff? That’s what it’s like trying to describe Tree of Tongues, the new album from Exotic Animal Petting Zoo.
Tree of Tongues is a difficult beast to pin down, as anyone who’s heard taster ‘Apis Bull’ can bear out. The album is progressive but it skews a more hardcore, Dillinger Escape Plan kind of route than anything djent or metal of any other kind. Yet sometimes it sounds more like My Bloody Valentine or Slowdive. There’s even some Mogwai in there at points. And on top of this, they have ‘proper’ songs as well. A close soundbite is Fair To Midland glimpses Mr Bungle in Hell. But really, that still doesn’t get across how subtly disorientating this record can get.
Case in point, ‘Pharmakokinetic’. It kicks off like some turn of the century indie NY band, then collapses into a mass of seething hardcore, tinged with shoegaze atmosphere. But just when you think you’ve got them pinned, they throw in a chorus line with a melodic drop so unexpected, it’s difficult to leave the rest of the track as mere background noise. The album is full of these little moments, like the sinister possessed vocals of ‘Gypsy Among The Pines’, the mad scientist’s brew of fretwork in ‘The Great Explainer’, or the dentist’s gas haze of spoken words on instrumental ‘M.U.M.B.’. It’s not that any of these tricks feel jarring, or out of place, but Tree of Tongues has a kind of dream-like logic all its own – coherent, but impossible to see coming.
Listen to ‘Apis Bull’ by Exotic Animal Petting Zoo:
Much like the body shock cover art, which falls between the sinister infectious fungus from The X-Files’ ‘Firewall’ episode, and the aphrodisiac parasite from David Cronenberg’s seminal STI horror flick Shivers. Because more than anything, Tree Of Tongues is the sound of the feeling that beyond your control, something really, truly terrifying is happening to you. And maybe you shouldn’t be enjoying it quite this much. Although I could be wrong. Maybe that picture’s just a rotoscope of some horrific disease EAPZ caught from their insurance nightmare of a van.
Tree of Tongues is a strange fever dream of a record, a beyond post-hardcore album with mild hallucinogenic tendencies. Some people will find it more marmite than molasses, but give it a shot. It might just grow in you.
Sounds Like: Dillinger Escape Plan, Fair To Midland, being orally violated by an erotic throat parasite.
Standout Tracks: Pharmakokinetic, Apis Bull, Kaspar Hauser Could See The Stars In The Daytime