"Hirn fein hacken"

By Dr. Abner Mality

Austria's Bulbul is part of what I like to call "freak rock". Not metal, not mainstream, not really belonging to any simple classification except "weird". Standard metalheads probably won't dig this, but I find it a breath of fresh air compared to the constant wave of "old school" metal bands trying to sound like something that happened 20, 30, even 40 years ago. Some of this freak rock can be pretentious and annoying, but Bulbul comes across more as fun and lively.

The press sheet says they like to play around with unorthodox instruments such as "umbrellas, tennis rackets, bicycle wheels, cooking lids and mattocks". I can't tell you exactly when they start playing umbrella, but you hear some pretty wild sounds during the course of "Hirn fein hacken" (which is German for "chop your brain apart"). The band is extremely bass oriented and the bass is far more prominent than  guitar. You can hear influences from New Wave, funk, punk and the noise/art rock of the early 90's. The one absolute word to describe the music is "quirky", with "infectious" being a close number 2. Opener "Fire" has a definite New Wave feel to its bouncy bass and almost Talking Heads style vocals. It opens up a lot when the guitar comes in with some strong licks. "Uhu" is super funky and strange, with some of the "found" instruments taking a hand. The whole album is a rollercoaster ride to rival the best amusement park screamers. The instrumental "Kanzla" has a hypnotic simple drive that gets very metallic and heavy in the second listen to this one with the "animal" part of your brain. "Bomb" starts with some awesome greasy slide guitar and becomes a slow, bass-pounding grinder. Some cuts like "Fisole" and "I hea scho land nix mea" go overboard on the weird factor, sometimes devolving into experimental noise. Another favorite is "Gurdy", which does indeed sound like some sort of part reggae/part gypsy/part bass blast concoction. At the end of the record, you get a "cooldown" song with "A to Beans", which is easy, sleazy and slow...not as frantic as the rest.

There's some planning and songcraft going on with these 3 guys. There's also unrepressed experimentation and improvisation. It's not the wackiest thing I've heard by far, but it's sure different and will keep you on your toes. It's a lot of fun, too.