REVIEW FROM SCENEPOINTBLANK:
Noise is a funny term. Not "ha ha" funny, but highly prone to linguistic slippage: its connotations cover everything from the stylized squawk of Lightning Bolt to the Pacific Rim blasts of Incapacitants or Masonna. The mutant term “noisecore” has been beaten virtually beyond recognition, referring to everything from the nitroglycerin airbursts of World and Final Exit to the unrelated sonics of Isis and The Dillinger Escape Plan. To some, such descriptive terms might seem to have outlived their usefulness; it's apparently so difficult to articulate a generic theory of noise that it often only confuses, much like the word “fascism.”
But it's almost impossible to discuss Geisha without talking about noise. Make no mistake; Geisha is a rock band, with a bracing, headfirst aesthetic worthy of The Melvins or The Jesus Lizard at their most unglued and time distorting. But their sound wears thick, anesthetic distortion like a cloak, embracing both the rock impulse and the raw sensory pleasure of hissing, apocalyptic distortion with a fervor that rivals Unsane. That said, Geisha are also much more than mere revivalists smitten with the gun-toting golden age of AmRep - their music conveys a breed of eerie, forlorn elegance all its own.
Unlike many would-be noisemongers, Geisha have an actual sense of dynamics. Mondo Dell'Orrore isn't just a monochromatic fuzztone blast, as the band frequently swirls in brushstrokes of clean/ dirty guitar melodies that almost conjure up Mogwai at their best (read: circa Young Team). Between the chokehold of “(SevenSevenSeven)” and the mournful, oceanic grandeur of “Love Theme from Reich Here, Reich Now” (song titles in the cutesy vein of clever, without going overboard), Geisha demonstrates a full range of expression - something often lacking in bands that stitch together their rock transubstantiation with static cling. They deftly temper beauty with terror, and the album evokes this balancing act in its epilogue: gorgeous, echoing piano overlaid with a forthright confession from a serial murderer. It's unusual to see a band operating such familiar instruments - guitars, distortion pedals, amps that we can easily imagine belching choking, black smoke -with this level of innovative expertise.
Both rock music and noise have seen much abuse at the hands of pretenders to their respective thrones. This is why Geisha so deserves recognition and awe: they intuitively grasp the basic properties of each aesthetic and wield them with simultaneous mastery, like a doctor simultaneously performing open-heart surgery and cloning a Komodo Dragon, but doing it so fast that it all blends into one big, scaly, blood-soaked revelation. Geisha are a rare bird; ignore them at your peril.
REVIEW FROM INDIEWORKSHOP.COM:
Grit, feedback, noise, and - melody. Uh huh. Leave it to a bunch of guys from fancy pants England to implant some "musicality" to an otherwise beautifully sledgehammerish outing. Ok, for those who can't read between the lines, |I'm obviously being a little sarcastic|. Honestly, I'd be way more excited about heavy music if more people put actual thought into the music as far as including aesthetically pleasing writing such as this. There are chords and progressions here that just don't arise in similar music: Grief, for instance, would still be brutal beyond belief and yet a thousand times more appealing to me were they to include a glint of delicately cafted ethereality before they brought down their sonic axe upon it.
What you find here are some short blasting songs of Unsane-ish noisy hardcore bludgeoning (like the first two tracks, "How to Kill a Career" and "(Sevensevenseven)") mixed with some really nice progressions utilizing enough suspended chords to even evoke Downward Is Heavenward-era Hum and some latter day My Bloody Valentine at times. The only passage that felt a bit samey to me was the last minute or so of "Walt", which just kind of kept going. The otherwise interesting portions outweigh that one passage heavily, though. "Lesopolosa" has a great feel all through it, with a more mid-paced tempo and brooding guitar passages that flesh out into a cool song with a nice build up into Geisha's now-usual crushing, feedback-y guitars that just doesn't have any words until about the third minute. "Love Theme from Reich Here, Reich Now" is a prime example of the melodious song structures used in a building fashion to create a 7-minute noisy yet tuneful piece that certainly doesn't feel like 7 minutes. "Letterbombs from Lesbians" is also a longer piece that uses more varied textures, ranging from rocking, rhythmic riffs to swirling electronic (almost video game) noise, to a quiet, eerie, echo-y piano over a recording of a serial killer speaking about his life.
The best thing about this record is the balance in writing. They cover many areas, from super heavy bashing slabs to dark, reverberating clean guitar textures and enveloping seas of blinding white light feedback, and while everything is very well constructed, the noisy feedback aspect presence gives the record a feeling of looseness. Vocals are largely absent, only coming in the form of distorted, processed screaming and speaking. The instrumentation does a great job of carrying the focus because the tunes are interestingly written. The way some tuneful, quiet guitar passages build into crushing feedback riffage, combined with the way the vocals are recorded actually brings Converge to mind quite a bit throughout the record. Geisha tend to use more equal parts brutality and ethereality than Converge do, though. A truly interesting record for those looking for an adventuresome mix of noise/hardcore and melancholic pop.
REVIEW FROM STYLUS MAGAZINE:
It's as impossible to say whether the folks in Geisha are skilled songwriters as it is irrelevant. This is a band obsessed with one thing: the sound of white noise. There are actual songs on Mondo Dell'Orrore, but they're buried beneath layer upon layer of bristling distortion and blistering feedback. What is the Jesus-Jones-baiting "Love Theme From Reich Here, Reich Now" about? No one but the band knows ("Bondage Death," on the other hand, might be vaguely decodable), at least on a lyrical plane, but what they're really about is treating amps like the Bush administration treats the Constitution. This isn't the first band to look in the mirror and see an angrier My Bloody Valentine staring back (with more blood), but Geisha expertly mixes things, letting us truly savor the varieties of noise; we get some processed, contained bursts of static, and we also get excruciating emissions that could be the most evil pick-scrapes in musical history channeled through fifteen distortion pedals. Somewhere, deep down in the mix, screamed vocals join the fray, and every so often the noise-howl briefly ceases for some spaced-out noodling, but only to allow an illusion of peace before Geisha returns with shattering new levels of abrasion. In other words, highly recommended.