Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
If you like your music straight-up without any twists and turns, walk away. However, if you like your music on the unconventional side, step forward. By unconventional, I mean with a pretty large helping of weirdness. Of course weirdness is always welcome here. TwangriLa is a defender of the off-kilter and unorthodox. Slim Cessn’a Auto Club (SCAC) is safe here with me. This album was originally released in 2008, but it still sounds perfectly suited for today. Cipher is not dated in the least bit.
This music is impossible to categorize. When I spoke to Slim about it last December, he said just call it rock and roll. Well put, Slim. He’s right after all, it is rock and roll. I try to give some reference when I do a review so the reader has some understanding of what to expect when listening. In this case, any labels I could put on Cipher wouldn’t even come close to doing this recording justice. It is all encompassing, going from gospel to honky tonk, to Broadway. Yes I said Broadway. Slim Cessna’s Auto Club is rock and roll but it is also theatrical and performance art. You see, I told you labels here are difficult.
If you are person that enjoys a wide range of musical styles, this should be quite an enjoyable listen. Cipher runs the gamut from punk rock to show tunes. The lyrics are also very intelligently written and the singing duties shared by Slim Cessna and Munly Munly are quite unique and awe inspiring.
There is also a large element of rear. Some of the songs are a little bit scary. Take Jesus Is In My Body – My Body Has Let Me Down (Track 11). This song could be the soundtrack to the most frightening horror movie imaginable. Horror builds suspense and this song is full of suspense. There is a very compelling story unfolding as I listen. If I had to put a label on this number, I would say goth metal. That is how varied the songs are on Cipher.
There is a song on here that has me completely hooked. That song would be Americadio (Track 4). This song is a mix between Santana and Charlie Daniels. Psychedelic and country together in a healthy marriage. It is also like a Sunday sermon is a southern church. So mix all those three images together and blend them up real nice and Americadia is the result.
This is an amazing album. If you already own it, but it again. If you don’t own it, what are ya waitin’ for? This brings up memories of Trout Mask Replica by Captain Beefheart. What the significance of that is the following: I didn’t like Trout Mask Replica on the first listen, or the second. Although I didn’t like it at first, I knew there was something there and it compelled me to come back for more. But now it is one of my favorite albums. I am not implying that I didn’t like Cipher on the first listen because I did. I could see this as an issue for some readers. My advice: hang in there, you will love it.