The Ribbon Device
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The Ribbon Device

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"PBS FM"

The Ribbon Device – Saturation Day (Nincompoop records)

It’s definitely not a necessity to know something about The Ribbon Device’s history to appreciate their debut release, Saturation Day, but it will certainly add depth to the experience. With Bar McKinnon, an ex-member of Mr Bungle and The Secret Chiefs 3, forming part of The Ribbon Device’s line up and half-brother, Mat Creedon penning all of the material, it was to be expected that the Bungles and The Secret Chiefs 3 would leave their indelible mark. But while the Bungles self titled debut reeks of producer John Zorn – a man whose music sounds like experimental jazz for PCP addicts – and their sophomore release, Disco Volante, was credited as “a perfect example of meshing high and low art musical genres”, it’s clear that The Ribbon Device’s Saturation Day takes it’s cues from the less experimental and more accessible California.

It would be a fair estimation to say that despite it’s brilliance, some of us found a majority of Mr Bungles material hard to digest, avant-garde and chaotic to say the least, it was hard not to lose the plot when the channels continued to change. But was it that we’d simply missed the point? To once again turn music back into art. The Ribbon Device however, seem to have reaped the rewards of paying attention in class, managing to integrate the Bungles somewhat extremist material with a higher quota of popular culture or ‘low art’, making it highly palatable. Happiness serves as brilliant example as to how their trademark sound has been preserved with sudden sonic changes, chaotic interjections of various jazz instrumentation, the usage of particular percussive instruments and the presence of unique soprano harmonies.

Although they’ve been described as “strange pop”, any attempt to pin it down to simply this, seems near sighted. Although their tone may not be as radical as their primary influence, they display a skilful ability to seamlessly interchange between musical genres. The art of the retrospective and psychedelia is also hard at work here, with tracks like Something Inside exhibiting Bowie-esque vocals and acoustic guitar reminiscent of Space Oddity, topping it off with some surrealist, audio effects straight from the 1970s.

It should come as no surprise that psychedelic influences would include the infamous Brian Jonestown Massacre with their enigmatic retrospective tones appearing throughout. It’s by no means a mistake that the Brian Jonestown Massacre made it to the guest list, it’s a reflection that all The Ribbon Device’s seminal influences possess an ability for pastiche.

It’s a tough ask, to construct an album that creates drastic shifts, whilst still remaining consistent and listenable but somehow The Ribbon Device have managed to deliver, moving smoothly from pop to rock, to fusion jazz to psychedelia, to ambient to classical and back again. It seems that the Bungles had it right, the fundamental lesson being: “music is art”. Looking around I can’t help but notice that some of us have forgotten; it’s a welcome relief to see that there’s still a band who’s willing to step up to the plate and remember.
- By Nina Katze


"The Ribbon Device @ Bar Open"

It’s hard to ignore the Ribbon Device’s allusions to music as art; their latest release, Saturation Day, is a virtual red flag to all practitioners of lazy pop rot that the rest of us deserve something slightly more diverse and a hell of a lot more intellectual. So it was no surprise when attending their album launch at Bar Open that I’d be greeted by all manner of expressionism – crews with laptops intravenously hooked into the sound system, video cameras and a film projector to guide us through our journey.

Make no mistake, The Ribbon Device are in no need of gimmicks to make their show fly, with a line-up constructed from some of the finest we have to offer and material carefully crafted over many a year, it’s a weight they’re more than capable of carrying on their own. It may just be a personal observation, but I had to give them kudos for their transition from studio to live arena, fragile and understated it’s quite possible that many of their subtleties could have been lost in the translation – their more delicate percussive work, delivery of harmonies and integration of electronic elements remained beautifully intact.

The Ribbon Device features Bar McKinnon from Mr Bungle and The Secret Chiefs 3; having attended a Bungle gig I can testify to the absence of breathing room and the luxury of escaping with unbroken toes – it’s been many a year since then, but I never forget and as my feet will never be the same, I owe this boy large. It may have been due to the fact that they chose a Sunday to schedule their launch, but it’s also quite possible that word is yet to hit the street, either way I was thrilled to find that my little piggy’s were at last safe from the crunching fury of 500 plus skaters sporting their finest Nike’s, brain addled from a dozen wine coolers. Doubtless it would have been hard to start a mosh pit when your inspiration consists of a cool blend of yesteryears psychedelic masterminds, jazz and indie pop, nevertheless a part of me knew that the days of generous front row access to these lads were numbered.
- By Nina Katze


"db magazine"

It's really not possible to review the debut CD from Melbourne's The Ribbon Device without mentioning one thing: the band features Clinton 'BŠr' McKinnon of Mr. Bungle and Secret Chiefs 3 fame. But don't go into 'Saturation Day' expecting the next 'Disco Volante' - the band is the brainchild of McKinnon's half-brother; singer, songwriter and guitarist Mat Creedon, whose influences are far more pop than prog.

That's not to say that the album doesn't have its share of inventive and interesting moments, though. The backwards vocal and bent guitar of opener and first single '80s Trash are a joy, as is the breathy These Things and, at their best, The Ribbon Device show themselves to be a dazzling blend of Pavement's twisted pop sensibilities with Beck's swagger. Creedon also proves a deft hand with melody, with Paper Cranes and Something Inside, two of the album's slower tracks, being particularly good examples.

The album's highlight comes right at the end, though, with the organ-driven Young And Beautiful, which sums up the band's sound perfectly - it's endless summer, but more Australian twilight barbeque than The Beach Boys. - by Alistair Wallis


"REVERB"

An all round feel good pop album that proves that feel good music doesn’t have to be cheesy and predictable. With enough odd sounds and melodies to take it out of the ordinary, this debut album from Melbourne’s strange pop masters is bursting with short catchy numbers that become instantly familiar and unforgettable. Mat Creedon’s vocals fluctuate with the music as he jumps from indie punk yelling to the crunchy yet casual low croon that one can only liken to the voice of Jay Mascis from Dinosaur Jr. Adding extra dimension to the overall sound of Saturation Day is the addition of the multi-faceted Bar McKinnon providing keyboards and wind instruments. McKinnon’s appearance adds instrumental depth and melodies as though he has come along and painted an extra picture to compliment the already inviting rhythms. At times lyrically obscure, the melodies are so inviting that once you grow attached you won’t want any song to change or even worse… end. - By Gerant


"Something FM"

Well, I’ve had a few weeks now to digest the weird pop flavouring of The Ribbon Device’s debut album Saturation Day, and this bad boy cooks. But Mundo, what makes it so special? Well I’ll tell you. A while ago I reviewed the free demo tracks available at Ribbon Device’s myspace and was quite impressed. So much so, in fact that I thought the whole album would be worth reviewing. So patiently I sat waiting for my copy to arrive via snail mail, all along hoping and praying that it would be a shiny, shiny album.

There’s always an idiot on the tram listening to his/her mp3 player grinning from ear to ear, and you’re wondering what the hell could they be listening to. Well Saturation Day had me sitting there smiling like an idiot on the old 57 staring across the Maribyrnong. I was smiling because that’s what pop is supposed to make you do. This album is irresistible and infectious.

Saturation Day is a selection of rock solid pop-songs, perfectly finessed to give the listener a new adventure every 16 bars. As much as I despise those multiple band mish- mashes reviewers use to describe the sound of another band here goes nothing – Imagine if Architecture in Helsinki weren’t annoying and George Harrison was mixing the drinks… or maybe think about that point in Radiohead’s career when they chose to go down the road that was Kid A, Ribbon Device kinda took the other road and Zappa hitched a ride.

Whistling and saxophones don’t come across as pretentious attempts at cool. The Ribbon Device have an uncanny ability to choose the right sound for the right song. This sets them apart from the too many other bands out there building songs around whatever kooky bullshit bass line some arsehole in the studio has accidentally programmed by spilling Shiraz on a Roland TB303.

All in all it’s an excellent album, at least four stars and a red dwarf. I should also mention these guys are getting national airplay, so I don’t think it’ll be too long until an intimate Ribbon Device show is a thing of the past. I suggest you get your bum to their next gig. - Something FM


Discography

Saturation Day 2006
Audio Fields 2002
Periwinkle Demo 2000

Photos

Bio

While The Ribbon Device started early 2004, as the
brainchild of Mat Creedon (vox & guitar) it has been
an on going labor of love that has stretched a decade.
Along the way there has been an ever evolving line up
of musicians and trusty companions including Bar
McKinnon (keys & woodwinds) of Mr Bungle and Secret
Chiefs 3, Mimmo Panunzio (bass) Pat Moore (drums),
Evan Pierce (Decks), Mat Baulch (guitar/Sax), Ben
Street (guitar/synth) the Amazing Mundo (Drums) and
a whole bunch of other no names.