The Flying Luttenbachers – Incarceration By Abstraction (2020 reissue)

4 out of 5

Label: Improved Sequence Records

Produced by: Walter Weasel

The Flying Luttenbachers, over their many releases and various Walter Weasel-led incarnations, have continually made the aural argument for madness being equivalent to genius. At times they have been noise rock assaulters; other times eliciting more of a sense of control, which, despite the near non-stop progging and kit-bashing of Incarceration By Abstraction, is very much the case on the album, creating an always shifting – but linear – journey from raucous deconstruction to more confined and precise tracks, culminating in the operatic ‘The First Time.’

And that’s the genius bit: that whether Weasel is just causing havoc or telling a story (here about “the rebirth of the robot out of the debris resulting from the cosmic battle between the void and the behemoth” – concepts and symbols from previous albums), TFL’s anarchic guitars, basses, drums, and whatever elses all feel delivered as part of an intended design, and not just ’cause these dudes know how to instrument wank. Opener ‘Assault on Apathy’s building paranoia shifts to the furor of ‘Electrocution’ and ‘Medusa;’ the album’s mid-section, ‘Triplex,’ becomes more syncopated and songy; ‘Crypt Emission’ is almost a dirge; and all of this is played at the usual TFL heightened pace and intensity, and yet, that intended design prevents it from becoming overwhelming.

Something that seems impossible at first glance is that Weasel did all of this… solo. His Luttenbacher compatriots were not ‘able to work with the band’ at the time, so Weasel is credited with every aspect of this, excepting Jonathan Joe’s and Aurora Josephson’s vocals on the closer. Now, I don’t necessarily want to take away anything from how awesomely impressive that is, and how it draws attention to these being compositions and not just improv sessions, but there is the sense of some tracks sounding a bit more restrained than their individually loud elements would suggest – hints of Weasel playing off of his recorded tracks as opposed to a band vibing altogether. Also, on the whole, while ‘First Time’ is a cool track, it’s definitely a different beast than the rest of the disc, so it feels a bit odd on the first go. This feeling starts to dissipate once you’ve gone a few rounds of its weirdness, and on your inevitable return trips of the album as a whole, you’ll look forward to the juxtaposition.

The vinyl reissue of this sounds great, although I might be a horrible person and suggest listening to it digitally – you get the remastered crispness, without the flow interruption caused by flipping the vinyl over, as Incarceration by Abstraction is best experienced altogether.