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  Siamese Connection
Artist: Rick Williams
Label: Aaugh! Records -
11 tracks / 38:41

Everything about Rick Williams' latest disc, Siamese Connection, gives us an indication that he has no financial support of a label. He probably doesn't even have a loan from his friends. The album's package is homemade; the cover features a drawn, black and white sketch of a mug of coffee. Everything from the minimalistic artwork to all the instruments played (including a phone book) is credited to Williams. This is a complete DIY project in every sense of the phrase.

Sonically, this is the lo-fi-est of the lo-fi. One is reminded in some ways of the homemade debut of Danielson, which proved to be a spring board to launch better and more produced quirkiness with subsequent albums. It is somewhat baffling to find that Williams has no less than 20 previous projects to his name. It seems as though Williams' next-to-nothing budget is his shtick. Unlike Danielson Famile who used Tooth and Nail's money to flesh out Daniel Smith's off-center ideas, one gets the feeling Williams isn't interested in polishing his wares.

The tone is set with "Stuck in a Thai Restaurant (With the Kimchee Pizza Blues Again)," and we are immediately reminded of a lo-fi, Casio keyboard version of Greg Strange. The tune is meandering and atonal. An unfortunate result of the lack of budget is that the vocals are too low in the mix, a problem that plagues several of the songs on the disc to varying degrees. This first tune apparently relates the experience of being in a Thai restaurant but wanting pizza. Throughout the song, a de-tuned guitar vies for attention with a keyboard and drum machine, which eventually stumble to a finish.

The next two songs are very similar, musically, with a cacophony of keyboard, drum, guitar, and other sounds competing with each other. The album's third song, "Help Unwanted," offers the clever, if awkward line, "People everywhere looking for a break / take a cue from Marie Antoinette, tell them to eat some cake."

The title track is a bit of a departure from the rest of the album (save an unlisted instrumental version at the disc's end). A synthesized dance beat starts the track, and is joined by the methodical repetition of a pattern of alternating keys on the synthesizer, which last the duration of the song. Again, sadly, the vocals are too low to make out.

Following are several eclectic tunes: one that features a quirky, slow, lounge-jazz-on-acid feel, another that displays a harmonica and accordion playing over a drunk piano line and under a lazy, tripped out, abused slide guitar, and a downright unlistenable Calypso number.  The best track by far is the last listed song, "Scrambled Eggs." This is an instrumental piece with brooding keyboards and is subtle, yet anthem-like in feel.

You won't find Williams' music or anything like it anywhere on the radio. Siamese Connection  could probably be most accurately described as a sonic experiment. It would be interesting to hear what Williams could do collaborating with another musician, and with a budget that exceeded that of a night out at a Thai restaurant.

Dave Kerschbaum 3/8/2003



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