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volume 7, number 40
June/July 1999

>>Believe The Lie


The members of Boston's Abunai! - bassist Dan Parmenter, guitarist Brendan Quinn, keyboardist Kris Thompson and drummer Joe Turner - embrace the art of mythmaking. The band's second album, _The Mystic River Sound_ (Camera Obscura), purports to be a compilation of 12 heretofore unchronicled combos operating around Beantown. Included are flower-power moppets the Merrie Shyrwode Rangers, jangly space-rockers the Sea Monks, post-punks North End Molasses Disaster, Spacemen 3 droners the Seven Seals, and both Abunai! and the Earth-2 Abunai!

"One of the original purposes behind adopting the 'fake anthology' approach," explains Parmenter, "was a feeling that not all of the tracks seemed to fit well with the others and that there was a danger of forsaking whatever 'aesthetic identity' (we had) established. The Turtles'_Battle Of The Bands_, featuring such notable ensembles as The Atomic Enchilada and Chief Kamanawanalea And The Royal Macadamia Nuts, was obviously an important reference point - not to mention _The Who Sell Out_, which features a nonexistent radio station that plays only songs by the Who. Ideas like that are well worth ripping off."

"It's kind of an allegory," adds Quinn, "because the Boston scene isn't really one scene so much as a lot of different small scenes, all of which feed off of each other."

Turner credits Abunai!'s diverse volley of sounds to a mutual love of "'60s punk and pop, spacey stuff and British/Celtic folk" and a democratic band structure that he likens to "going out with a psycho girlfriend who's great in bed - you often wonder why you're still with her, but the benefits are worth the occasional tension."

Abunai! formed in 1996, the product of improvisational jam sessions. Its moniker, which means "Look out!" in Japanese, would prove prophetic: the third Abunai! gig was a high-profile one at the first Terrastock festival. Shortly thereafter, Australia's Camera Obscura label offered a record deal, resulting in the band's '97 debut, _Universal Mind Decoder_.

The band's growing reputation has prompted the Bevis Frond and Barbara Manning to join the group onstage. Reviews have been encouraging, although Thompson takes issue with Rolling Stone's "implication that we are some kind of hobbit-dregs of the modern psych scene." Deadpans Thompson, "[The writer's] quote is on our Web page, where we prayed for his soul."

- Fred Mills

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