I push Play: A crisp bass chugs forth, recruiting a drum roll, spacey keyboards, and a woman's soft voice, earnest yet controlled. They march forward - onward! - towards recurring bouts of organized chaos: it's not quite normal, but then again, one look at the album cover says as much.
We're taught not to judge a book by its cover, but this cover.. this cover.. God, it's a brilliant design: disembodied replicas of the band mingle with various vegetables and raw meat to indicate a decidedly freaky stew is about to served.
Yes, something special is definitely on the menu. The cover is spot-on, and the insides, just as the booklet reveals, a unique treat.
來世不存在 Next Life, the opening track of OCD Girl's debut album ㄇㄉㄈㄎ Muhduhfuhkuh, is a brilliant introduction to the genius of 黃雨晴 Huang Yu Ching. Songwriter, designer, lyricist, vocalist, guitarist, synthesizerist (is that the word?)… this is her baby and oh, what a specimen it is.
The hallmarks of her aesthetic are her detailed compositions - so action-packed & imaginative - and her somewhat unconventional melodies & vocal phrasings. They're almost geometric, but never stilted, easily giving way to impassioned bursts. Her guitar playing is equally special: sometimes frantic, other times playful and light, but always active and thoughtful, as though it were a highly caffeinated spider possessed to weave its intricate webs through each song.
ㄇㄉㄈㄎ is more than one woman's vision and artistry. It's a collaboration blessed with stellar performances from an all-star line-up, from the solid, powerful drumming of John Stephenson (also of Roxymoron) to the distinctive bass of Johnny Fan (via The White Eyes). Johnny adds some serious weight to the songs. His playing is perfectly thick, intelligent, and bad-ass (check out the weird 沒有靈魂的肉 Meat Without Soul, esp at the 1:42 mark, then 2:30. Yes!). The production, clear and upfront, comes courtesy of Yu Ching's former Space Cake bandmate 游翔竹 You Xiang Zhu. Kudos all around.
Album highlights include.. well, the whole crazy thing. Seriously, I enjoy it that much. If I force myself to choose, some select moments are as follows:
這個城市沒有龐克 No Punk may get my nod for cream of the crop, simply for building so masterfully to such a rapturous climax. Meanwhile, 愛人 Lover's memorable wailing vocals and surfy-punk bass line (straight out of The Go-Go's) adroitly propel the song through its yearnings. Both of these tracks feature added vocals by The White Eyes' Gao Xiao Gao. Ooh, just typing that gives the songs an instant edge.
舊時代的少女 Old Age Girl is perhaps the most uplifting number, in terms of its soaring layers. 時間浪潮 Time Wave displays the band's talent for exploiting the simplest riffs for their maximum effect. The song's main lick is a two-note staccato on synth, mimicked, kinda, by guitar, and deliciously elaborated upon in the breakdown. And then there are the blunt bridge-to-nowhere metal chords… the point being, the song, like the rest of the album, is chock full of surprises.
Later on, 馬克白 Macbeth's 蘇聖揚 Mai Su, (OCD Girl's original bassist, btw) teams up for a toned-down duet on 奇異的朋友 A Strange Friend. I prefer to think of that as the album's finale, but it in fact closes with a remix of No Punk by Sonic Deadhorse. On its own, it is a good, hyper-fun reworking of an already good, hyper-fun song, but feels out of place regarding the overall tone of the album. The new beats, spastic and frenzied, are too abrupt a shift for me. Yes, I know it is a remix, but in this digital age, it is a rare privilege to take an album as a continuum, and I therefore treasure one with such a strong, cohesive identity. This is one of those treasures.
Creative and vibrant, ㄇㄉㄈㄎ is a must-hear, must-have.
(Postscript: It is bittersweet to note that as of the publishing of this review, Huang Yu Ching has already relocated to a life of new adventures in Germany. So while we can't - for the foreseeable future, at least - enjoy more explosive OCD Girl performances, we can, by default, revel in this damn fine parting gift.)
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