Spanish instrumentalists Reznik formed in 2005, and since the movie The Machinist was released in Spain in December 2004, it’s entirely possible the band — initially a four-piece, now a duo — took their name from Christian Bale’s character in that film, Trevor Reznik. Whether or not that’s the case, I don’t know, but the dates work out and I thought that movie kicked ass, so I’m going to run with it. If I’m incorrect and there’s some other significance to the band’s moniker, I’ll leave it up to the vast knowledge of the intertubes to correct my erroneous thinking.
Wherever they got their name, Didi (guitarra) and Lolo (batería) offer a ‘90s-influenced mix of noise rock and stoner groove, occasionally hitting a reference point of Fatso Jetson or some others from the Palm Desert scene, but usually relying on more grit than fuzz sonically. Of the 15 tracks on their first LP, El Mal (Alone), which follows two demos and a number of splits, not one of them is over three minutes long, which is probably for the best. What makes El Mal work is that it never really has time to get mired down in its sameyness. If Reznik were just jamming endlessly on the same riff for six or seven minutes, it might get tired really quick, but by the time a riff has worn out its welcome, à la later cut “Octiembre,” the song is over. It’s not a bad system they have worked out.
That said, El Mal, even considering the tracks one to the next, doesn’t do much to change up the approach and especially without vocals, it’s easy to get lost in the progression of riffs. Maybe that was Reznik’s intent, I don’t know, but they come off like a band just playing parts instead of songs, and though I think it might be a cool experiment to listen to the album on shuffle and reorder the components of what’s essentially one long progressive piece, I haven’t done that since I can’t imagine there isn’t a purpose to the order in which Didi and Lolo have placed these tracks.
Rife with speculation, this review. That happens sometimes.
They’re probably going to find the number of people who can sink their teeth into El Mal will be few and far between, but those who dig it are really going to dig it. In a way, much as Reznik was stripped of two of its members, their output now seems stripped too of elements like bass, vocals, etc., and though it’s entirely possible their goal was to see what they could do with half a band, despite a hyper-minimalist charm I’ll readily acknowledge, it does feel like some of the “extras” are missing, and that’s never what you want from an album or a band.
I’m not going to say they need to go out and find new members, because there are plenty of successful guitar/drum duos these days, but while playing a riff for as long as feels right and then cutting it off and ending the track dead seems like an interesting experiment, the reality is a little empty sounding. I like El Mal, but I can’t help but feel there’s a level of engagement missing in the execution. Still, if all you want is riffs bringing drums along for the ride — the barebones stuff of stoner rock — that’s what Reznik have to offer. They’re like Christian Bale in that movie, with his spine sticking out from malnourishment, and I get the feeling it’s every bit as on purpose here as it was there, it just needs a little more development before they can really pull it off.Alone, Madrid, Reznik, Spain