CD, Monotreme, 2009 / 2010
If you haven’t heard of Italy’s N.A.M.B yet, it’s probably one of those situations where your brain is refusing to accept sensory input because what it’s receiving is just too damn bizarre. That said, it’s definitely worth the effort to expand your paradigm to accept the existence of this mixed-up foursome that refuse to settle on any one explanation for their acronym name. They even welcome contributions from fans (“Nicotine Affects Mind Behaviours”?) and offer prizes for the best.
“BMAN” is their second album – and an ambitious leap indeed, from their self-titled 2005 debut album. Not only do they make the jump from their mother tongue to English lyrics, they also have put together an epic tale of a small robot (BMAN) and his quest for identity. Not since Styx’ “Kilroy Was Here” has a story of such proportions been put to music.
And what music it is…
While N.A.M.B’s roots are undeniably in rock, rather than electronica, they still manage very convincingly to combine these disparate disciplines in an album that is sometimes psychedelic, occasionally industrial, often catchy and always three steps left of conventional. A casual listener may make favourable comparisons with the likes of Muse or Nine Inch Nails (for contemporary fans), while an older audience may pick up traces of Pink Floyd’s sensitive synthesizers or even the stadium rock sensibility of Peter Frampton! Truly, a diverse album, and one that keeps you guessing at every turn. And they aren’t scared of experimenting with music either: at last, a band willing to break free from the desperate trap that is common time…
Even viewing the album as separate tracks, rather than the conceptual entity it is intended as, yields goodness. My personal favourite, “Work it out”, is a massive pop-rock foot-thumper, replete with repetitive, confrontational lyrics (“You lied! You lied! You lied! You lied!”) and stonking great guitar riffs.
In summation: a great album, and a total change of pace. Not exactly a great selling tool, as the hordes of great unwashed will find it either a, too weird or b, too thought-provoking, but if that doesn’t scare you, you’re in for a treat.
— David van der Merwe