Croatian trio Them Moose Rush, for those who’ve never had the pleasure, are pleasantly bonkers. It’s kind of like putting Jane’s Addiction and Captain Beefheart in a blender, and seeing what crazy shit results. The chaotic twists and turns within third album Dancing Maze (Dostava Zvuka) are all named after random people’s belongings or actions and allow accessibility despite the complexity of the music.
The dancing maze of the album’s title apparently belongs to some bloke called Ray, and it’s this track that opens the door to the asylum. A staccato riff gives rise to Branimir Kuruc‘s insane basslines, mirrored by Nikola Runjevic‘s leadwork and Geddy Lee-esque vocal which is capable of a decent scream. The chiming riff of the second half is the prime indicator of Them Moose Rush’s desire to ‘Prog in their own fashion’: no overblown hysteria here, just clever but catchy structural patterns and remarkable ideas. The mellow depth of ‘Jeff’s Transcending’ is reminiscent of a sparing Alice in Chains ballad, with only brief explosions in the sound: while ‘Annie’s Moles’ has a Muse vibe but with more power, more beef to the erratic rhythmic pulse and bruising riff.
Given the intricate fluctuations the tightness of the unit is staggering. ‘Jerry’s Bacon Flavoured Vegan Potion’ (yeah, I know…) is a series of enthralling cascades and dramatic swells yet there’s nary a drop of a note, a chord, an oddity in Vedran Marinko Komlen‘s syncopated drum movements. ‘Jude’s Got Another’ is akin to an elaborate, speed-fed version of Nirvana‘s ‘Polly’, and as such has an energetic and endearing charm rather than the sickening morbidity of the Grunge Gods’ tune. ‘Dolly’s Wedding Song’ flirts with both Freeform Jazz and Easy Listening: while ‘Nigel’s Food Falling’ is sung with sparkling harmony and possesses seriously stirring solos which belie the black humour of the subject matter. Capable of sleazy moments also, the filthy riff of ‘Sonny’s Hidden Money’ flexes real muscle and links wonderfully with jazzy meanderings down steamy midnight streets.
‘Yvonne’s Getting On’ is where Beefheart’s influence really kicks in, with its occasional atonal patterns and melodic fire: while the penultimate ‘Chris’s Cake Crisis’ and closer ‘Jack’s Secret Algorithm’ show the brooding sensitivity the band allies with that mathematical feel. It’s the huge talent that Them Moose Rush possess: the ability to make such complicated music so urgent, so thoroughly bloody enjoyable. Dancing Maze grows more attractive and impressive with each listen: a rare combination in the world of Progressive Rock.
8 / 10