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Fredrik Thordendal`s Special Defects
Sol Niger Within Version 3.33
April 1999
Released: 1999, Relapse Records
Rating: 5.0/5
Reviewer: Nathan Robinson

If you dig Meshuggah, there's no need to read this, just buy this CD! Still reading? Okay, here's what this album's about. Nuclear Blast released this CD back in 1996 or 1997, and us North Americans had to get it by import. Relapse Records recently re-released it with two bonus tracks, meaning that it should finally be available domestically (unless your record stores completely suck, which wouldn't be surprising). As I alluded earlier, if you like Meshuggah, you'll like this. It sounds like Meshuggah in every way but the vocals. And because this is lead guitarist Fredrik's solo album, he noodles away at his fretboard like mad! The musical structures are odd, with the traditional Meshugganal odd-timing. The drummer, Morgan Agren, sounds exactly like Meshuggah's Tomas Haake too!



The album consists of one continuous song. On the original album, this song is one 40+-minute track! This is obviously a pain in the ass. So when Relapse re-issued it, the album was marked with tracks, based on where the song shifts. This album is primarily heavy, but has some great atmospheric and jazzy parts that work well with the space theme in the lyrics. The keyboards help in this respect also. He shows his Allan Holdsworth (jazz guitarist) influence more on this album than on Meshuggah's material. Guitar leads are in abundance, and rightly so. Just listen to the brilliance of track 10 ("zeta 1-reticuli"). And the vocals are unlike anything I've heard so far! Fredrik performs them himself, with the aid of vocal effects (I believe) which twists his voice into a raspy, ghost-like, robotic screech (whatever that's supposed to sound like!). That's not all…there's also some cool, ominous spoken parts, as well as some twisted moaning. And towards the end of the song, some weird stuff is thrown, like organs, saxophone, and some female screams (I think that's what it is). Some of this was cut out for the re-released version. Although this stuff was cool, it probably was a good idea to cut some of it out because it really didn't fit.



As I mentioned, the re-release contains two bonus tracks. The first, "Missing Time", originally appeared on the Japanese version of the first release. It starts with a keyboard/drum introduction then silences to a sampled alien abduction spoken passage, finishing up with a brilliant jazz instrumental passage, and clocks in just over 11 minutes! The second bonus track, "Ooo Baby Baby", is a rap-metal collaboration between Fredrik, Hard Corps, and Ice-T. Oops…what am I thinking??? This song originally appeared on the album "Trends and Other Diseases" by Mats/Morgan. Besides Morgan's drum performance on this album, Mats Oberg performs some keyboards. Fredrik returned the favor by playing on this song. Thank you, Fredrik, for including this song here for our listening pleasure! It is probably the heaviest thing on this album! Makes me wonder what the Mats/Morgan album's like. Drop me a line if anyone knows!



All in all, this album is a totally mind-numbing experience! I'd go so far as to say this stuff's better than Meshuggah! Don't hesitate, get this now!
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» Sol Niger Within Version 3.33
by Nathan Robinson


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