Dysrhythmia - Contradiction - 2000


Dysrhythmia is a Philadelphia trio led by long time friends and musical collaborators, guitarist Kevin Hufnagel and bassist Clayton Ingerson (both previously of Grey Division Blue). Drummer Jeff Eber completes the instrumental trio. The music represents a hybrid of the members particular tastes; thrash, punk, progressive rock, indie, ambient and noise. After two spins of the disk I’d have to concur mostly with the latter (noise).


Fusion requires more than musical virtuosity to carry it above mediocrity. It needs texture, atmosphere, complexity, substance and energy. At times, Dysrhythmia show the odd bits of energy and enthusiasm but in the long run the music sounds no more than one endless garage jam after another. The group says that everything was recorded live in one take. While some musical skill is evident, any real depth of song writing is not.

"Ladder" (7:29) starts things off in a lumbering manner, with meandering guitar and pinching bass lines. A stretch of feedback leads into a driving passage that rocks, but doesn’t roll. "Side Walk", track 2, starts quietly, carried by the bass. Some edgy, jabbing guitar adds interesting texture. "Burning Cinders In a Freefall" adds energy to the mixture and provides some good visual motives to the music. However, the album’s sparseness is already wearing thin. There simply isn’t enough creative ideas to keep this music interesting.

"Rotary", track four, is over ten minutes long. It has some quiet depth to it and good use of guitar. A nice, building intro eventually leads to a long, vacuous passage. Here is where the album loses me. Nothing new develops and the music plods on seemingly forever.

"Polytrip" is over thirteen minutes and it fares much better. There is some Frippish angst in the guitar playing and overall more dimension to the song writing. If you’re into the heavy side of instrumentals, there’s enough here to enjoy. There’s also lighter passages as well. The problem is, again, the constant use of repetition. Even though the song is loaded with time changes (and actually the musicians are remarkable in this respect), the whole of the song doesn’t have the dramatic arc to feel like an "epic" piece of work.

The atonal qualities of the band are in evidence on "Lost in Disguise" the seven minute sixth track. This is exceptional avante garde in it’s mixture of thrash elements and suspended, quiet bridges. However, while there’s enough angst to conjure up a military coup, melody is missing. I reinforce my bias in favour of melody. Headbangers might find more of interest in this track and elements of the album than I did.

The two minute "Yes, It’s Kind of an Oxymoron" is a blistering punk piece with some nice base runs. It leads us to the nearly ten minute closer, "Earthquake". I like the moody intro. In moments like this, the band’s potential is visible. Perhaps with a less raw sound, some overdubbing and keys the band can lift the limitations of their song. Parts of "Earthquake" are very powerful indeed.



As can be expected in a recording like this, the sound is raw and sparse. The jacket artwork is nothing more than scribbling in ink (though the band may be embellishing upon this). "Contradiction" is certainly not going to turn any heads in progressive circles. On a positive note the musicianship and passion is there. Now all that has to happen is someone has to teach these guys how to write songs.

To get "Contradiction", send $8 US to:

Kevin Hugnagel
P.O. BOX 43526
Philadelphia, PA 19106-0129

Email: gdblue@erols.com

author - date - rating - label

Richard Zywotkiewicz - June 2000 -   - Independent Release