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Chameleon Technology – Blank Canvas  – Album Review

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The art of the short but sweet record is the basis for many EPs that aren’t products of the realities early bandhood, and are perfect grounds for punk bands, heck the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ last punk-focused record was 2007’s Is Is EP. Blank Canvas by California’s Chameleon Technology, clocks in at just barely 12 minutes but packs enough in to dignify a statement of quality over quantity.

The album opens on the frantic bass of “No Safe Word” before dropping into a frantic thrash through a track so dense and fast that it’s possible to forget it’s only a minute and a half in length with everything it fits into that time. The vocals are appropriately aggressive and abrasive, and the instrumentation is both unhinged and surprisingly sophisticated for the style, but always works nevertheless. There are couple weird dips in the sound that almost seem like weird mastering defects but whether or not they are intentional they may take a few listens to not jar the listener.

Crowd call and response moments open “Serin’s Vending” which takes a slightly more straightforward party-thrash-rock path, calling to both Be Your Own Pet’s frantic playing and writing style, and even at times BYOP vocalist Jemina Pearl’s vocals in some verses. The rhythm section comes alive in a breakdown section where the drums and bass get the space to ring beautifully, thanks to a perfect recording.

Lifestyle Science” plays a bit more fast and loose with the techniques that float over its straightforward thrash. Strangely recorded shouting vocals and burned out guitars create a feeling of post-going-over-the-top antics that still want to start a fire.

The band slows down considerably on “Self Repair” which opts for a more charming indie rock with an edge sound. The track might be the most poppy and accessible track on the record and it works quite well especially with the great mix of the reverb-laden guitars and cleaner vocals. This said even with the distorted moments it is a complete side-step from the earlier tracks that may prove a little jarring to those leaning more towards the heavier side.

On album closer “Blank Canvas” the band shifts the sound slightly closer to their punk side, while mixing in catchy riffs, and some addictive vocals. The earlier half’s bass controlled sound definitely sounds stronger than the guitar focused verses later on in the song, as the bass is buried more and more as the track goes on. Some rhythm centric bridges and freestyle drumming through verses near the end of the track freshen it up to take its final chorus with insane energy.

Blank Canvas is proof of how much talent Chameleon Technology can fit into less than two minutes, and in these small bursts they truly soar. Whether the speed, length or pop-leanings is to blame, their longer tracks while more accessible and varied tend to feel a little out of place with the fast rock and feel exceptionally long after the shorter tracks. Overall however there’s not really a bad track on the record and it more just matters which half you’d want to listen to more.

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