Catharsis is the debut disc of the Illogistical Resource Dept. IRD—as they are sometimes known—is an indie band founded by two musicians whose paths crossed frequently in the past—bassist and keyboardist Dan Menapace (Agent Orange, Death Angel) and drummer Noa Appleton (Agent Orange, Death Angel). The pair of players recruited guitarist Jim Harris and The Illogistical Resource Dept. became the tuneful trio they are today.
The band is based in the San Francisco Bay area and is becoming known for their “bass-heavy approach to songwriting”. Beyond that, the band’s bio is unbelievably brief. The only information available simply states: “ear infections are not uncommon”.
This not only indicates that the group has a sense of humor but also that they may very well believe the main focus should be on their music. Indeed, IRD takes your crusty chronicler back to his college days when he wrote about little more than underground, avant garde groups that only the hippest, coolest people recognized and that only the hardcore alternative and college radio DJs would ever play on air.
(You’d be surprised how many cute college co-eds were drawn to the dude who wrote about those weird, new bands. Not that your polite penman ever took advantage! Your reclusive writer has been a shy, innocent white boy for decades and even twice turned down offers to discuss individualistic artists on a major radio program.)
Catharsis is a ten-track release on the Aphagia Recordings label. The album opener is “When Frogs Attack”. This is but a brief sample of the band’s abilities due in small part to the fact that this is the shortest cut on the project.
“The Secret Box” is next. This continues in the same vein in that their work is generally basic but serious instrumentals with occasional sound bites and spoken voice samples. The plucky guitar work here is reminiscent of material by the late, great Snakefinger.
“Speak” is an example of why some critics claim the band’s signature sound is often ominous. This one is vaguely like music found on some earlier releases by The Residents. It is contrasted quite competently by the well-placed piece “Adverse Side Effects” which has more of a Tuxedomoon-like tinge to it.
The lengthiest track is “Vedic Soma”. This has a running time of just less than 5 minutes although the composition of the cut is such that the length is not an issue. This, too, sounds somehow like 1980s Snakefinger guitar work here.
The next number is “The Midshipman”. This is another trippy track albeit a more ambitious one in terms of pace and composition. It certainly has something that makes it stand out even among this eclectic collection of cuts.
The seventh selection is “The Road To Giza”. This is another example of their otherworldly audios. At this point the careful listener should notice the band is obviously influenced by such acts as Pink Floyd, Primus and Tool.
“Sine Language” and “Augmented Banality” are also included here. They not only further demonstrate the trio’s talents but also somehow manage to provide a significant lead to the closing cut “Caveat Emptor”. The album end-note is one final tuneful taste of a sound that was once ahead of its time enough to be unaccepted by a mainstream audience.
While some critics claim IRD is akin to the likes of Rush and Faith No More, the composition of the cuts are perhaps more the result of the inspiration of acts like Black Sabbath, Devo and King Crimson. Essentially, the Illogistical Resource Dept.’s Catharsis is an unusual musical mix of multiple musicians and genres including but not limited to ambient, electronic, psychadelia, rock and underground. It’s an original blend that provides an interesting aural experience with no “Adverse Side Effects”.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that's the bottom line.