"In the musical apocalypse that is SAMUS' world, random noises battle for the honor of breaking cohesive material into a million pieces. Sludgy, droning metal thunders across landscapes of howling vocals, cartoon calls to "put your finger in the air", and desert-borne post-rock experiments. Distorted vocals, sounds of breaking glass and shrieking animals all drag their tattered asses into the warzone--where the eventual winner is schizophrenia. It's no surprise that the word "LSD" appears a few times in the CD booklet--Desengano is a highly entertaining trip through the outer limits of psychedelic noise."
WHITE TRASH DEVIL webzine:
" "Desengano", Samus' debut offering on Crucial Blast automatically grabbed my interest because it sounds like nothing I've heard this year. Make that any year. Cut and paste madness that somehow manages to sound like a cross between Captain Beefheart, The Residents, Earth and Sleep/Electric Wizard, Samus sounds effortlessly bent. Weirdness has always been a throat grabbing ploy, often by bands with nothing else to say other than how far out they could go in a particular direction. Samus, on the other hand, sound like the goal isn't so much as to make music, but to entertain themselves, and this makes all the difference. The sounds found on Desengano aren't any kind of put-on vacation, but rather a natural habitat. Don't kid yourself - more than the occasional lager and joint went into the making of this crockpot of bizarre side-trips.
It makes sense that Samus started out as a fairly straight forward band that took its inspiration from Sleep, Electric Wizard and Black Sabbath. There are parts of Desegano (probably not enough of them) that sound like some of the best doom/drone you've ever heard - like classic Electric Wizard or Sleep filtered through Dylan Carlson's bowel pulverising low-end. Second track "The Happy Sultan" and the future radio hit "Who's Pumping Estrada" (sample lyric: 'where the fuck is Ponch at John") throw down detuned heaviness that, like all of Samus' tracks, erupts into multi-headed tangents that stretch songs into ten minute beasts. This works to a certain extent, like the way "The Happy Sultan" snaps into some Snakefinger-esque guitar twangs for a minute or so amidst nine minutes of pure doom, but it sometimes overstays its welcome. Depends on the mood, I guess.
Repeated listens begin to reveal some method to the madness. In spots the weirdness does seem a trifle overtweaked and some songs could use a few less detours, but a lot of the time, it works. It works because the same level of skill is applied to all angles of attack, and the programmed beats and samples are often as cool as the riffs. People who are into it will love it, those who aren't would probably rather appear in platypus porn. Desengano takes sidetrips through cartoon music, early 60s sci-fi motifs, and Merzbow-style noise terrorism - you almost wish the band supplied the right pills for this one. There is a concept at work here, and it somehow encompasses Delta Burke as a disc jockey, Eric Estrada getting corn-holed, and the beauty of ape tits. In other words, another one of those experimental doom/cut and paste records about pop culture and primate physiology. Alright then!"
"Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of SAMUS. A nightmare movie soundtrack for the apocalypse. Doctor Pepper's Lonely Hearts Clubfoot Band. Put Eno, Eyehategod, Devo, a handful of tabs of orange sunshine, and my well worn vinyl copy of "Uncle Meat" in a blender and you have some idea of the sludge infected insanity lurking on this disc. Bizarre symbolism, hidden backwards spoken words, psychoticized sound samples, and tape loops from hell work on your sonic psyche like a doom dirge symphony for shattered souls. Weird sounds from inside the land mine explode in and around snips of heavy metal guitar riffs and electronic mix madness. Every note and sound, bouncing from loud to soft, harsh and heavy to liquid and light, are placed exactly, juxtaposed intently, to pummel and then placate the listener while drifting from one extreme to another. Every song melts into the next with no chance to recover or retreat. Drink a quart of morning glory seed tea, ride the lysergic lightning, and listen to this acid art sludge masterpiece on random play until your sanity is just a distant memory. "
"Crucial Blast continues to expand the portal of underground music with an ever-increasing foray into the experimental depths of the avante garde. With Samus, the label has once again proven that the concept of "genre specific" idioms is becoming increasingly void of absolutes. How exactly do you classify an album like ‘Desengano’? Unless there has been a surge in elastic hybrids of doom metal, IDM, turntablisim, prog rock, punk rock, pych, hardcore, and free range tape manipulation, experimental outfits like Samus will remain free of the constraints of a record rack definition. Using a thought process as varied and utterly nonsensical as the collage that adorns the cover and inside flap, Samus trudge through a series of droning doom metal excursions that give way to often amusing tape and turntable manipulations amid melodious keyboards and sustained guitar tones. What is essentially a duo often sounds more like an experimental ensemble; the two minds know no boundaries, and the nature of unpredictability makes for a mind-fuck of the acid tab variety. The crushing doom-laden Earth styled guitar thump of "The Happy Sultan", the bountifully melodies that playfully flows under the sweet electronica of jazz standard "Caravan", entitled "Super-Orthepedic Caravan" (spelled with an e, no less), the expansive Morricone slides of desolation found in "Who’s Pumping Estrada?", wall-reverberating drones and tape oscillating backwash give way to the no-wave Sonic Youth styling of the killer "Bone Ape Tit", a fucking Mr. Bungle, Zappa, Beefheart punk-metal flipout in "Save The Manatee", a Merzbow noise and plunderphonics lesson in "10/90", an absolutely awesome T.V. sample-fest of fun ala Emperor Norton’s Arling & Cameron defined by the swimmingly titled "DJ Delta Burke", and rounding out the whole extravaganza with a taste of Tristeza on crack known as "Defenestration". When taken as a whole, the strength of Samus lay in their ability to apply their warped vision to surprisingly cohesive ends; there can be no denying that "Desengano" is a treat for those willing to venture into the sordid minds of the players. It’s only when they reach back to the coveted doom bag and straighten up a bit, that they seem to be lose a bit of their potency. It’s been said time and time again that the original vision of punk rock was not rooted solely in rebellion against the establishment; it was also fueled by a desire to defy the conventions of mainstream culture. Given that punk rock has, itself, become a stagnant ingredient of the culture it once opposed, exploring this sub-sector of the underground may be our only means of finding pure, unadulterated vision and raw, honest expression. As with the no-wave movement of the late 70’s, or the earlier development of free jazz and improvisational composition, we are bound only by our preconceived notions as to what punk rock is "supposed" to sound like. For Samus, those boundaries are fucking unhinged. The freedom of expression employed on ‘Desengano’ couldn’t be further from the MTV Generation sound cutter of today. And I certainly can’t think of anything more punk rock than that."
"Good old Residents, what with their big eyeball heads and anonymity disturbing the peace of minds everywhere. Over the course of 25 years, folks have learned to beware their eccentricities, as all the while their many heirs sprawl about like prodigal idiot savants. We don't need to fear this gruesome family: Nurse with Wound, Coil, Biota, Current 93-- one and all can make messes to their hearts' content as wholesome rock 'n' roll innocents need merely to shift eyes over the rows of these bands' records in shops. Because no matter what unbalanced commotion these groups enact, very little makes its way into the heartland of our great nation, right? Deviant collage and Dadaism may wreak havoc on the marginal audience attuned to its effects, but they are nonetheless marginal.Or are they? Mr. Michael Patton runs a fairly successful indie label featuring bands that perform along the hallowed parameters of The Residents and NWW (and his own A-list bizarro unit Mr. Bungle), and his roster receives considerable coverage in our corners (yep, check today's review of Kaada's Thank You for Giving Me Your Valuable Time). Elsewhere, labels such as Ata Tak and Beta-Lactam Ring prove that no matter how far out you get, there's always room to stretch. So, let's be serious: Avant-garde rock is not tucked away in the corner of Chicago art schools, nor is it merely the refuge of nocturnal drug experimentalists with a penchant for art-damage and enough eBay money to pay for their Pro-Tools. It has, in fact, long since crept into seemingly normal neighborhoods. The duo Samus, for example, are from Eastern, Pennsylvania.
Jeff Gallagher and John Busher aim to please, or scare, or possibly just tickle each other with their debut, Desengano. With minimal assistance, in the span of just over 70 minutes, they manage to deconstruct as much of the workaday sludge metal and tape-splicing gumbo... And with that description, they tread the well-worn path of understatement and anonymity so revered by Resident-ial family of noisemakers. I'm no traditionalist, but I can admire the strength of musical lineage, especially when it's so ostensibly undernourished....I'll add that the production is great, in a lo-fi, stoned-out kind of way.Predictably, the best moments happen when Samus ventures away from realms already extensively mined by their elders, as on the outstanding version of Duke Ellington's "Caravan" (here titled "Super-Orthepedic [sic] Caravan"). They use a 50s Hollywood orchestra sample saturated with disembodied soprano goodness as the intro to a cheap synth-and-cocktail lounge groove fit for the finest kings of space-age poppy-delia. Furthermore, they pull out the psycho-sludge riffs at the end, and rather than numb my brain into submission, actually inject a little muscle into the mix. Nice stuff, and what's more, they accomplish it in less than half the time of most of the other tunes on the disc. I wouldn't say brevity is a prerequisite for serving up a particularly potent slice of abnormality, but in Samus' case, distilling the experience helps them to break free from the pack."
"Desengano is a baffling, two-headed beast. Some of the time, Samus plays excruciatingly fucked doom/sludge, with vocals that bring up images of screaming, heavy duty electric wire tentacles that have been ripped from their sockets and are flailing about - a lot like the end-all vocals of Anaal Nathrakh......it's trying to mind fuck you as much as possible with sections of video game-type music, fuzzed out circus music, happier stoner sounds, again video game meets electronica sounds, and dozens of other totally bizarre elements (whose detailed descriptions would be counterproductive to you getting an overview of this record) all pasted haphazardly together..."
"METAL!!!! I don’t know who this is yet, but it’s METALLLLLL!!!!!! Even if the vocals do have a bit of the old post-grunge ‘megaphone or CB radio’ vibe about them, the riffs overpower it with hulking lo-fi METTTAAAALLLLLL!!! And it’s not speed metal either - these guys know their limitations and plod the hell out of ‘em! Go lads! Next track is morbid Disney soundtrack music....which leads into a grungy lounge groove...what is this, Quintron the Spellcaster?? No, it’s not him, or at least the metal track wasn’t him....is this a comp? If not, it's a pretty eclectic group. Next track is back into less lounge and more dark spaced-ness, so its probably not a comp...oh, I bet I know what this is, its that band called Samus that was sent to me by the Crucial Blast label and caught my eye, looking as it does like some spaced-out art-stoner basement metal, which is almost exactly what it is! Fu Manchu meets Faust. 72 minutes of stuff, which is as usual too much to listen to in one sitting, but it goes all over the place and stays remarkably interesting throughout, especially with some plunderphonic beat-oriented tracks that, if taken as strictly underground hip-hop, I like better than any of that Anticon shit. And like you might think track 7 "10/90" is fairly typical stoner riffing, but what about the way it segues into a Bomb Squad on 16 RPM backing track with a back-masked Incredible String Band raga melody over it?"
IN MUSIC WE TRUST Webzine reviewed by Jeb Branin
" Had GASP survived to release another full-length album it might have sounded something like this. SAMUS, like GASP, generate an intriguing and surprisingly listenable amalgamation of extreme music (sludge, hardcore, metal, etc) and noise (samples, electronics, rubber ducks... seriously rubber ducks). Songs range from barely one minute to over 14 minutes. On one level I would certainly have to call this "experimental" but not in the sense that it's so "out there" it can only be appreciated for its artistic merit, because on another level this is nitty-gritty, down-and-dirty extreme music that can be slapped on and listened to for its own sake. Whether your preferred flavor be MITB, GRIEF or, hell, even IRON BUTTERFLY, you are going to dig this... "
DEAD ANGEL webzine:
"These jokers from the suburbs of Hazelton, PA have been huffin' way too much nitrous oxide while playing their Sabbath and Earth records, that's for sure -- somewhere along the way they bumped the speed down to 16 rpm and never even noticed. Now that's what i call good huffin'. If you can imagine Wayne and Garth trying to shake their hair to Black Sabbath and Captain Beefheart at the same time after that all-night Robitussin chugging contest, well... um... that would be approaching the level of weirdness here. The level of exquisitely deranged loopiness here, all rendered at a volume slightly less than that of a nuclear explosion, gives them an ass-shaking obnoxious quotient of very high proportions. Armed with samplers, Moog keyboards, cut 'n paste software, ancient video games, drum machines, turntables, old records, and a virtual band weaned on monolithic sludge, Jeff Gallagher (guitars, bass, vox, programming, keyboards) and John Bushner (drums, keyboards, programming, vox) manage to make a huge, idiosyncrastic mess over about seventy minutes worth of thundering psychotronic weirdness. The closest approximation one could even begin to make would be to Thrones, that eccentric brainchild of Joe Preston -- this is in that ballpark, but heavier in its pounding metal roar and denser in its collection of instruments and other effluvia. Quite frequently it doesn't make a damn bit of sense, but it's so mesmerizing in its apocalyptic brain-freeze that you'll never dare reach for that dial. As for the sounds 'n melodies 'n riffs and standard equipment, they're all over the map and colliding from all different directions (then frequently drowned out by overamped bass hell). Titles like "This Is Bad Cabbage," "Who's Pumping Estrada?," "Bone Ape Tit," and "DJ Delta Burke" tell you all about where they're coming from (maybe even more than you wanted to know), and they're not above flying in the sound of skipping CDs to freak you out. You may hear weirder albums (interstellar overdrive by way of rhino tranquilizer is a lot easier to come by these days), but it's not likely you'll hear too many blindingly heavy albums quite this weird. (Unless you already happen to be hep to Robot vs. Rabbit, and they're less weird but more evil than this.) Bonus points for the totally mutant cut-n-paste artwork. Put this disc on at the next youth revival and see what kind of reaction you get...."
TTBMD (popping his head in the door): Wow, this cd is fucking great. I recommend it to everyone. Go buy it.
"Desengano is a sound track to a freakshow - it's hypnotic, violent, sometimes funny and always downright fucked-up. Samus compose aural soundscapes comprised of sick sludge fused with samplers, tape splicing, a moog organ and your basic everyday drums, bass and guitar. Desengano is like DJ Shadow on purple jesus and Noothgrush at the end of a Ketamine binge all done with a modern day uber-quirky Captain Beefheart vibe. Maybe add a bit of that Phillip Glass/John Zorn art sensibility, maybe not. It's alternately fuggin' fascinating and unbelievably annoying at the same time. Just when you are about to call these dudes genius, you wanna grab 'em by the throat and throttle. So Desengano is a listen that challenges - not everyone is going to dig it because it can't be categorized (other than "weird as shit"),you can't snap your fingers to it, and it's hard to hum along unless you're schizophrenic. But it does offer fresh musical terrain that hasn't been stomped into the mud repeatedly as of yet. It's also kind of fun to try and figure out just what kind of drugs the composers were on for each song. It would be cool to offer a bonus answer sheet as part of the packaging. That way you could challenge yourself, and when you're done, invite a few friends over for some beer, chips and Samus. Try to stump them too. The winner gets a kick in the nuts."
"Running the gamut from camelback soundtrack to slow, pummeling and unintelligible, Desengano is a tough beast. Just looking at it, one can't help thinking, Christ, what is that? The disc is a cut-n-paste pastiche, with dialogue, riffs of thunder and sludge and Atari melodies all camping out like some sort of Boy Scout model UN who don't know that they've pitched their tents at the lip of an abyss.At first it's hard to find any of the qualities here that make acts like the Melvins appealing -- but then something happens. That something is called "Super-Orthopedic Caravan", a plunderphonic escapade that derails the lumbering, heavy locomotive pushed off by the opener, "The Happy Sultan". (Yeah, there's another track before that one, but it's one of those one-minute dialogue sample things that just doesn't count.) The obvious references are John Zorn, Mr Bungle and all their related ephemera, as Samus layer and crossfade styles and sounds. Forget the Boy Scout image from a second ago and think instead of a blind interior decorator trying to make a loft look like the Taj Mahal, and you've got the idea. However, I dare you not to love the droning, slide-metal errata of "Who's Pumping Estrada?". It's ten minutes long and seemingly without any point beyond proving that the Great Cthulu was once a teenage kid who got drunk and stole cars -- Getting Drunk To Steal Cars To Get Drunk In, to paraphrase Spacemen 3. You can't tell me you don't love that.
In other places, Samus cruise by on bald-faced professional amateurism, as on "Save The Manatee", with its hyperactive, tweaked kazoo-guitar hybrid. Think The Residents in their good years, hopped on crystal meth. That's a current that runs through most of Desengano, as Samus continually toe the line between appealing and appalling. The only real cohesion happening here is the complete lack thereof, and what saves Samus when they look like they're about to piss on the third rail is that you know these guys aren't taking themselves seriously at all, or even trying to make sense.Your friends aren't going to like this much, but you've always known, deep in your heart, that all your friends are pussies. You don't need them. You need to think about yourself first. You might not like Desengano much either, come to think of it, but you just don't know what you need. Besides, Samus can help answer important questions, like "How can you save the manatee if you can't save yourself?"
LOLLIPOP MAGAZINE: reviewed by Craig Regala
"OK, short review. Why? Because this is genre bender art fuck outside of simple analysis. These guys do with "extreme metal" what the Butthole Surfers did (their first 4 records anyway), with acid rock, post-punk and musique concrete. Desengano has big slabs of glacial grind-doom float in a world of syncopated groove rock, for a minute or so, then the murky medicine The Boredoms sell down by the clinic gets shot up. Then it happens again. And again. When you think you’ve got’m they jump into turntable fuckery using records from old game shows, a short speech from a turnip salesman(cut up Burroughs style), and some moments of non-stupid goofiness you expect from Mount Shasta or some other great Skin Graft bloot and general heist from the airwaves. Go ahead, put this on and try to fuck. If you can, you win. "