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FOUR STROKE BARON Data Diamond

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Monday, June 10, 2024 @ 9:02 AM


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FOUR STROKE BARON
Data Diamond

Prosthetic Records




If you like weirdness and unpredictability, then you'll love the latest outing from Reno, NV eccentrics FOUR STROKE BARON. If not, then Data Diamond is probably a hard pass.

The duo's fifth album is a Looney Tunes mashup of electronic, rock, pop, jazz, and industrial music, flavored with a bit of punk and metal and an assortment of this and that that almost defies description. FOUR STROKE BARON bring to mind any number of left-of-center acts - FANTOMAS, PRIMUS, D.C.'s sadly underappreciated SHUDDER TO THINK, THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, AUTHOR & PUNISHER, and King Diamond (in guitarist Kirk Witt's warbly vocals) - with hints of the more mainstream likes of Moby, THE OFFSPRING or SLEEP TOKEN without the schtick. Yet the duo, rounded out by Matt Vallarino whose shuffling, agile drumming helps anchor all this chaos, wisely avoids sounding like anyone in particular - or anyone at all, for that matter - instead sling-shotting here and there at the drop of a hat, and rarely traveling in any sort of linear fashion over the entirely of a single song.

Data Diamond is definitely not designed with the casual listener in mind. You have to be ready for just about anything, be it autotuned vocals, caterwauling sound effects, blippy synths, crashing riffs, djenty shudder, proggy noodling, occasional piano patter, ear-worm choruses or obtuse, macabre lyrics, as in "1,000 Threads": "Tied up in knots / A night of my life that I wish I forgot / Can't believe that I'm lying to rot / Consumed by dark and I like it a lot."

Yet it all somehow works together if you take it all in, like Dali paintings or Twin Peaks.

That the album was envisioned as two separate EPs - one, Data, being electronic, the other, Diamond, being more organic and heavy, like the band's last album, 2021's Classics - helps in some way explain the schizoid approach here. But even if the nine tracks are divided up more or less equally, there is still a lot that would sound pretty out there in any environment. And that's not meant as a criticism, more as an observation.

Yet despite its many oddities, Data Diamond is loaded with infectious hooks, buoyant choruses and punchy, catchy hard rocking moments. "Monday" offers loopy funk-metal amid its flighty electronics and myriad, cartoon-like effects, while the propulsive riffs and tempo and infectious melodies of "The Witch" bristle with punk rock spunk. "Cyborg Pt. 3 (Because I'm God)" and "People In My Image" are weightier and more ominous, with a djenty chug flexing some serious muscle.

The epic title track, which features CYNIC guitarist Paul Masvidal and VOLA drummer Adam Janzi to close the album out, is trippier and more measured. Its classical piano intro and psychedelic passages easing into and out of the rockier sections, making for less jarring contrasts than elsewhere. It is perhaps the most "normal" song here- save for the synthetic vocal manipulation.

The vocal and sound effects that permeate Data Diamond can be a bit of a distraction - and god only know how these guys are going to pull a lot of them off in a live environment without a rack of laptops. But there is something engrossing, almost hypnotic about Data Diamond, even if it's not your thing. There's a palpable "what's going to happen next?" or, conversely, "what the fuck was that?" quality to the album, and once it gets started it's tough to turn away.

4.0 Out Of 5.0


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