June 21, 2007

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Tomahawk, Anonymous
Ipecac Recordings, 2007

Were it not for the oxymoronic “interesting politics” and “good television” of these times, we might be in the midst of the first Native Americana frenzy since Val Kilmer spent all of Thunderheart hearing Graham Greene heckle his necktie. Fast-wrinkling Boomers are busily occupied chanting to New Age-approved tom-toms, HBO recently thrust our collective face into the haunted dirt of Wounded Knee, and now there’s this highly accessible techno/metal/indie record, the apex (and, if they get it right, trilogy’s end) of the Tomahawk project. The band’s first two albums were surprisingly coherent, serious attempts at seeing what would come if one stranded past members of Faith No More (Mike Patton), Jesus Lizard (Duane Denison) and Helmet (John Stanier, now with Battles) on the same island, but those previous efforts played no role whatsoever in realizing Denison’s vision of authentic Indian songs super-retro-jet-packed for Generation iPod. Anonymous, however, is that reckoning, a flat-out terrific niche product that’s assured a lifetime of ren-fair/comic-con love at a minimum, not that any electro geek couldn’t pull this curveball out of the glove box and blow their friends’ minds. “War Song” earns its title through doom-metal bliss, whereas “Ghost Dance” follows a more goth-electro path, but all the tunes benefit from Patton’s flamboyant interpretation of the lyrics, which were painstakingly researched during Teddy Roosevelt’s time. Footnote: “Long, Long Weary Day” is a companion-piece “parlor song” culled from the same historical period and isn’t a Native American traditional. A — Eric W. Saeger