Every now and again, a band comes along who’s moniker perfectly sums up their sound. Swedish data-punks Frantic Mantis, who’s debut album Data is Not Information drags forth images of a group of angry computer geeks attacking a Game Boy with electric guitars, are one such band.
**Note: This is an archived review originally published on the Big Yawn music review site in 2006**
Born of an impromptu jam session between members of Division of Laura Lee (Hakan Johnson and Per Stalberg) and Decahedron (Shelby Cinca), ‘Data is Not Information’ is a pure monolith of noise. Chaotic guitars and haphazard vocals form the eye of a turbulent hurricane that threatens to spiral out of control into a technological abyss, yet is constantly restrained by an understated sense of melody and rhythm. As jam sessions go, this is a bloody good one.
Tracks such as Creation Sickness and Delta to Delta take all the best bits of the likes of Fugazi, Mars Volta and Aphex Twin, destroy them, rebuild them with some off-kilt punk rock, and feed them into a microwave. It’s a noisy affair, Creation Sickness luring you into a false-sense of security with it’s almost radio-friendly indie vibes, before beating you senseless with a cyclone of guitars, yelps, blips and beeps that continue to pound you for the remainder of the LP.
Spontaneity rules supreme here, with tracks like Dark Horizons easing into a slow, calm soundscape of almost ambient noise. Round and robust basslines carrying free-spirited guitars along a dark highway in the middle of the night, before Soundlurkers with it’s hypnotic Nine Inch Nails meets System of a Down noise and ranting vocals steers the whole thing right off said highway and into a Nuclear Power Station in the middle of a raging inferno.
Whilst this may sound intimidating to those less turned on by the experimental, fear not, because for every eccentric, genre-mashing sonic head-fuck, there’s a damn good tune fighting for your attention.
Mantis Uprising maybe louder and faster than an orgy of speed-freaks being shot out of a cannon, but there’s a definite sense of melody and rhythm to this, and most other songs on this album that make it easy enough to pack a dance floor.
And that, folks, is perhaps the Frantic Mantis’ biggest strength. For whilst they packed enough eccentric sounds to appeal to the type of music snobs who drop bands such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor into conversation in an attempt to sound cool and interesting, the band also have plenty for those of us who, at the end of the day, just want a damn good tune to rock out to.
However, as is to be expected with all but the most flawless of albums, ‘Data is Not Information’ does have it’s down falls. As for every balls-to-the-wall mayhem-laden rock song, there are three or four tracks of mind-numbing tedium such as The Brooding Polychrome, which sounds for all the world like Pacman and his friends having a disco in a microwave. Yet these are few and far between, and once you know when to find them, it’s easy to skip straight on to the next round of all-out insanity that makes this album a fine addition to any music fan’s collection.