I could repeat the words of dozens of reviewers and talk about how raw and visceral the performances here sound. But what amazes me about this record, by contrast, is how good it sounds. To talk about the musicianship of Rick Shaffer as a point of punk orthodoxy or Garage rock seems beside the point when you listen to “Outside Of Time,” the new album by Shaffer.
The guitars that dominate the entire album do not sound sludgy at all, despite the heavy reliance on good old fashioned fuzz, overdriven and psychedelic sounds. They bubble and sizzle like a sirloin in a skillet; the flares and trebles sound just right. The rhythm section is rock solid, and without it, this record would go nowhere fast. Rick Shaffer, likewise, knows exactly what he’s doing.
This is one of the better engineered garage rock records, with a sound that cuts like lasers. It is a remarkable performance regardless of who should get the credit. What we have here is an amazingly sharp, dense, harsh and muscular sonic attack. I don’t listen to a lot of new pseudo rock but I’d like to hear someone outdo these tracks for pure, sheer power.
The songs never drag; actually the whole album is remarkably well-paced. “Killer Time” kicks things off with a menacing prowl, “Going Down Slow” kicks things into high gear, “Blowing My Mind” hints at the craziness still to come, if you’re looking for a slow-burn, catch-your-breath centerpiece to the album, you won’t find it.
The closest you’ll come to slow burn, is “Final Surprise,” but that’s track 9, and it’s not slow either, just slower. Moreover, by this time Rick has kicked the breath out of you for 8 whole thumping tracks!
Once the madness kicks in with “Your Charm,” it’s like the afterburners have been lit and there’s no turning back for the rest of the album. Words don’t do it justice. Lyrically, I don’t know much about what is going on because I’m so stuck on the driving rhythms and gravelly vocal deliveries.
There may, or may not be, some mystery as to what exactly Mr. Shaffer is trying to say in each song, but the messages comes through in the various grunts, snarls and shouts that he cuts loose, adding another cataclysmic instrument to the already potent musical combo.
It is your sole duty to find and understand them. For Garage Rock or Proto-Punk lovers, this is essential stuff. Hell this recording could stand alongside the best of those classic releases by Husker Du and Interpol.
Overall, this is an incredibly powerful album and represents a real hybrid of the free- form acid drenched jamming from the latter sixties, whilst looking forward to punk, garage and alternative rock. Yet there is more –you’ll find traces of Blues and Americana roots music buried in beneath the electric turmoil.
If you pay careful attention, this happens with overt candor, precisely from “One On One,” through “Show Me,” “Final Surprise” and “Hellbound Trip” – truly a nice blend of pure rock experimentation and musical innovation. I doubt there is another album, recorded recently, that captures such a feeling of raw, energetic, rock n’ roll exhilaration such as “Outside Of Time.”
∎ Rick Jamm — JamSphere Magazine