Remember “Suspended Animation” by FANTÔMAS, where they took the inspiration for the album from children’s cartoon shows, then forgot the whole cartoon thing except in keyboard interludes? Were you as let down as I was? Do you like shred guitarists? Then “Electric Cartoon Music From Hell” is for you.
Take shredder-extraordinaire Todd Duane, journeyman drummer Peter Wildoer (DARKANE, ex-ARCH ENEMY, ex-ARMAGEDDON, plus a lot more) and virtuoso keyboardist Lale Larson and you’re dealing with an impressive amount of instrumental talent. Such talent could be used for great good or great evil (wankery); instead, they put together something…different. Something intensely technical, but that by no means sounds sterile. Something born out of every time Bugs and Daffy argued over whether it was duck or rabbit season, every time Tom hit Jerry with a golf club and every time Mighty Mouse punched out…whoever his recurring villain was. The classic cartoons from yester-decade, with their anthropomorphized animals beating up on each other, are reborn as technical shredfests. I also hear a lot of 8-and 16-bit video games in these compositions.
Let’s take the opener as an example. After a child’s music box opening, ELECTROCUTION 250 turns the flight of the bumble bee into a whole swarm before examining some playful, happy sunny cartoon day melodies amid frantic riffs that suggest nothing so much as an incredibly cheerful sky falling and killing us all incredibly cheerfully. Throw in some blistering guitar solos, seething keyboard solos, the famous riff from “Smoke On The Water” (what?) and some brief sound gags. The rest of the songs are similar in tone; one part shred, one part technical wizardry, two parts childhood memory that, while not exactly twisted, is going somewhere you’re not entirely sure is right. “G-Wiz” is a guitar solo, “Exploding Head” a drum solo and “Looney Toon” plays out the Looney Toons theme on piano and then some.
The biggest problem with “Electric Cartoon Music From Hell” is that it just doesn’t have much replay value. As much as I really enjoyed the album the first and second times, as time passes I feel significantly less inclined to pop it in the CD player and not just from normal interest entropy. It’s fun for a while, but it’s a good thing the record is comparatively short. Like the cartoons it’s inspired by, a lot of it is flashy and entertaining for a while but without the substance necessary to hook someone for repeated spins. It’s mandatory listening a few times, but your mileage will greatly vary after those first couple times. (Online July 10, 2006)