Rollerball – The Diddler

2 out of 5

Label: Leper Without a Cause

Produced by: Gilles

Coming at this with only early years Rollerball CDs in mind, it’s hard to place these six tracks. They’re very guitar riffy – veritably rock songs – which quite contrasts with the experimental, long-form jazz/groove I would’ve expected. Not that change is unallowed, of course, and there’s definitely a sense that this is a “stripped down” Rollerball, which might account for a shift in approach, but only at the briefest moments does this even feel connected with a prior iteration of the band – the loping beat of opener LongTeeth; the off-key vocals; and most closely in the broader instrumental closer, Cheap Objective.

But, trying to set expectations aside, it’s only that last song that ends up feeling like a complete thought: perhaps ironically named, it presents an evolving structure of bass and samples that has a beginning, middle, and end. Elsewhere, while a core harsh guitar sound can be said to unify things, there’s not only a lack of cohesion from track to track, but songs have no real closure to them, or even real “point” – riffs certainly exist, but they’ feel like ‘re like the base layer of ideas that never quite take hold, with the same feeling true for song structures, hovering somewhere between drone-like hammering and looser experimentation (the latter definitely being one of the Rollerball notes), with neither committed to enough to really land a whole song.

It’s far from being unlistenable, given firstly its short length – 6 songs, maybe 30 minutes? – and crisp, quality recording, its moreso just an unfortunate mix of being slightly odd but not odd enough, and kinda rocking but not hooky enough.