There is nothing that piques the interest of a browsing customer shopping for a good novel than a laudatory blurb from a well respected author. For the novice horror writer a line of high praise on the jacket cover from Stephen King, Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell, Dean Koontz, Peter Straub, Brian Lumley or Jack Ketchum can be a powerful persuader.
"I have seen the future of horror, his name is Clive Barker", wrote Stephen King on the jacket cover of Clive Barker's horror anthology "Books Of Blood". And although Barker's talents are unmistakable and need no hype - that prophetic single line testimonial back in the early 80s' may well have been the springboard to Barker's successful career that followed.
And Stephen King's blurb on the poster for Sam Rami's 1981 independent horror film "The Evil Dead" ... "The most ferociously original horror film of the year ...", gave this low budget flick the credibility to escape the dreaded direct-to-video fate of most indie horror flicks of the 80s'.
So when I receive a promo package that opens with a blurb from one of the most well-respected guitarist in progressive rock, Robert Fripp - I tend to take notice.
"To Who It May Concern: I am happy to recommend Matt Henderson to you. He is hard working, committed and has integrity."
This relatively subdued endorsement may read more like a letter of recommendation from a former employer, and not the usual hyperbole I'm accustom to receiving as part of a promo package, but considering the blurb is coming from his former teacher Robert Fripp - not one to attach his name to just any project - well let's just say his endorsement carries a great deal of street cred.
Guitarist Matte Henderson and fellow collaborator drummer Marco Minnemann have created a truly mondo bizarre audio and video experience that must be experienced again and again. Their 2013 release "The Veneer Of Logic" is a CD and DVD combo pack that's both musically unsettling and visually macabre. As well as mentally stimulating.
Like his famous tutor Robert Fripp, Matte Henderson has amassed an impressive set of credentials himself, recording or performing with such diverse artists as John Medeski, Mick Karn, David Torn, Bill Dixon, Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto, Trey Gunn, Henry Kaiser, Rodney Holmes, Screaming Headless Torsos, and Natalie Merchant. And drummer Marco Minnemann has performed with guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani and Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson.
The adventurous music is an avant-garde conflagration of blazing progressive post punk, electronica, and industrial metal mayhem.
With Henderson's ferocious Fripp-style chord distortions, odd metering, and dissonant noises, complimented by Minnemann's multi-layered polyrhythms, "The Veneer Of Logic" sets your equilibrium on a tailspin. It's exhilarating, unorthodox, highly original, and sometimes downright creepy.
The music is awash with imagery. Frightening and nightmarish imagery.
Then there are quirky tracks like "Bible Camp" that sound more like the filmscore to a French soft-core porn "Emmanuelle" movie, with the flirtatious "La La La" of a female soprano voice running throughout.
Henderson inserts processed samples of rambling conversations, weird voice-mails, and prison parole hearings (including a whacked-out diatribe from Charles Manson) throughout the recording.
My lasting impression of "The Veneer Of Logic" is that of Britainís notorious Bedlam Insane Asylum and the psychotic ravings of the unfortunate lunatics within.
Henderson's message - insanity is the veneer of logic. Or the other way around.
"The Veneer Of Logic" is to music what David Lynch's "Eraserhead" is to film.
Musical comparisons can be drawn from the later period King Crimson albums ("The ConstruKction Of Light" and "The Power To Believe"), as well as the more eclectic ProjeKcts collaborations and Crimson off-shoots.
The list of guest musicians and performers includes Crimson alumni Tony Levin (bass), Trey Gunn (bass), and Pat Mastelotto (sampled drums), as well as Marlon Browden (sampled drums), Tomo Fujita (guitar), Gwen Snyder (Voice ), David Torn (voice-mail vocals), Dr. Know (voice-mail vocals), and Brandee Henderson.
I foolishly thought the DVD was of live concert footage or studio sessions, so I watched it first.
It's like previewing the supplemental material on the making of a movie before watching the DVD. With spoilers and all the SPFX magic revealed beforehand it detracts from the normal viewing experience, making what might otherwise have been a grandiose special effect - anticlimactic.
In the case of "The Veneer Of Logic" there are no spoilers revealed by previewing the DVD first, but because the video clips are so damn entertaining that afterward when listening to the music alone, it's like leaving a three-dimensional world and stepping into a two-dimensional world. You need both to get the full effect.
The bonus DVD is a surrealistic acid trip - an experimental video collage edited from industrial and military training films, cold war propaganda, public service messages, vintage commercials, animated cartoons, and low budget public domain 50s' and 60s' sci-fi flicks from schlockmeisters like Larry Buchanan and other Roger Corman wannabes, including clips from that campy classic "Invasion Of The Bee Girls".
Henderson's background in visual arts helps bring his nightmarish vision to life.
"The Veneer Of Logic" is highly recommended for the most adventurous listener. Not for the closed-minded or the faint of heart.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on March 16th, 2014