A band’s early EPs are meant to whet the appetite of the fan before the main course, ie the debut album, is served up.
A band’s early EPs are meant to whet the appetite of the fan before the main course, ie the debut album, is served up. However, there can be extreme interpretations to this rule. Here’s one such example, as upon one listen to this Melbourne four-piece progressive / alternative act’s second EP, their fans will be slavering at the mouth like a Rottweiler who hasn’t been fed for a week. Again, this five-tracker remains a taster before Twelve Foot Ninja’s long player arrives some time in 2011, but it’s pretty damn spectacular nonetheless. The anticipation grows.
Anyone familiar with this band’s first EP and/or their live set will know that they have an instantly recognizable sound and style, plus a highly convincing grasp of a multitude of musical styles that they blend into one highly cohesive and listenable whole. Smoke Bomb should enhance these feelings even further. You instantly detect a strong progression in most areas of the band’s sounds and presentation, but the key lies especially in the sound quality. The sound on the debut EP New Dawn was far from poor. In fact it was fairly sensational for a DIY production. But, while still done at home in guitarist Steve Mackay’s home studio, on Smoke Bomb Twelve Foot Ninja have taken a step up again. The sound is sharp, fat and warm, and every nuance (and this band has heaps) is clearly and powerfully audible. Plus Twelve Foot Ninja own the levels of musicianship to back up the amazing sound.
The mastery of myriad styles is also present in spades once again, as they cover groove-based and progressive heavy rock to metal, funk, reggae/ska, electronica, pop and more besides; all this, remember, is accomplished in just five tracks and under twenty minutes of music, all with real skill and style. Although, it has to be said, the pop element has taken somewhat of a back seat when compared to New Dawn, this time in favour of a slightly more consistently intense and precision-based approach. Which should be music to the ears of the more hard bitten TFN fans out there.
Even brief touches of middle eastern and oriental-flavoured flourishes get a run on this amazing EP, and one may find themselves asking ‘Is there nothing these guys can’t do?’
Mention must be given to a couple of musical luminaries who have leant their considerable talents to the completion of this EP. Both Bar McKinnon, member of the legendary Mr Bungle on sax, and Ollie McGill from The Cat Empire on the keys definitely make their respective presences strongly felt, even in their cameo roles.
All in all, Smoke Bomb is an immensely satisfying effort, as far as an EP can go. But here’s hoping the mains be not too far away, as TFN fans are damn hungry for it, and five tracks is ultimately not filling enough!