Albums In My Collection
– Use and Ornament
– Neither use nor ornament (A small collection of big suites)
At first, I was preparing to write a review of only one of the albums by Regal Worm. But then I got so caught up in the music and soon came to the conclusion that both the debut release, Use and Ornament (2013), and its follow up Neither use nor ornament (A small collection of big suites) (2014), are so damned similar in style, tone, production, and quality that writing a review of either album could actually apply to both since it’s nearly impossible to differentiate between the two. Therefore, I decided to write a general Band Overview instead.
Well, let me tell you, no matter which album is playing, it’s instantly apparent that Regal Worm is truly bizarre and generally off-the-wall. Talk about eclectic Prog-Rock!
To me, these albums sound as if a musician so outrageously brilliant and twisted such as Frank Zappa had joined forces with the group Gong or another of the more experimental Canterbury Scene or Psychedelic Rock Prog bands, which then merged with Frogg Café, Van Der Graaf Generator, and Jumbo, then asked Brian Eno or Robert Fripp for production assistance, who then gathered together a bunch of Burt Bacharach “bah bah da ba day” type of background singers from the 1960s to perform some sort of demented, maniacal, and wacky Broadway show or movie soundtrack.
Each Regal Worm release includes so many styles, so many instruments, so many segments within every song, with some spoken parts, some vocals parts, and tons of musical eras merged into one, that it’s hard to keep track of all the various influences, the shifting rhythms, the number of odd time signatures, and all the strange sounds tossed into each track. With musical moods, themes, and atmospheres changing seemingly at 1000 miles per minute, you will certainly find zero time to relax during the proceedings.
The result is nothing short of interesting, often jaw-dropping, sometimes highly enjoyable, but mostly just a bit—no, not just a bit, but REALLY strange. I mean, seriously, how many bands today (or even in history) can boast of including not only the usual guitars, bass, drums, and just about every type of keyboard imaginable (including Mellotron) on an album, but also just about everything else imaginable from sax, flute, clarinet, and trumpet, to harp, vibes, violin, even whistles? Not many, I’m sure. One definitely has to wonder if even the kitchen sink is also being used somewhere in the background. Perhaps one of the many unusual percussion instruments to appear? We may never know the answer to that, but you certainly have to give the band credit for its originality and diversity.
Regardless, when you see song titles such as “Cherish That Rubber Rodent” and “6:17 PM The Aunt Turns Into An Ant,” or “Confession From a Deep and Warm Hibernaculum” and (the zaniest, and my favorite) “Odilon Escapes From the Charcoal Oblivion but Endeavours to Return and Rescue the Cactus Men,” you know you’re in for one wild and goofy ride. It’s like a musical version of the Marx Brothers on crystal meth. So if you’re adventurous enough to listen to either of Regal Worm’s albums, be sure to hang on to your seat belts or you might find yourself with a nasty case of whiplash.