Apparently George Carlin is a scary man without a laughing crowd, and his cynical, oft-quoted lines about religion serve as the opening for Lipona’s newest record. A comedian minus the laugh-track sets the stage sonically and thematically as Networks assesses its own voice as both commentary and music. But even a million George Carlin’s waxing poetic to a soundtrack of ritualistic slaughter couldn’t hide the fact the music on this record kicks the crap out of anything it tries to say.
It’s not that the effort is a complete loss, but Yamil Velez’s rhetoric is never really as noticeable as the stupidly snappy tunes that prop the whole thing up. The drumming, easily Lipona’s trump card as an entire unit, is case in point; and from the slamming propulsion of “Followers” and the stuttering bass drum of “The River”, to the driving double-time of “Rights of Passage” and the machine-gun snap of “Collapse”, the drum work is the most interesting and noteworthy aspect of this album.
In contrast to the manic rhythms, Velez’s voice seems too controlled and deliberate. Where Networks soars and threatens to peak, the vocals never seem to be able to make the step alongside the music. In this sense, “Comfort” becomes the album’s best track: a coalescence of strong drumming, interesting guitar work, and – once the song truly kicks in – vocals that strain and flicker emotively unlike elsewhere on the album.
But whether you love Velez’s voice or see his constancy as detrimental, Networks can be noted as an achievement solely for upping the musical technicality. Throw in the fact that it’s self-produced, and you have a solid record which stands up to Lipona’s highest standards, even if its messages are never really sustainable.
02. The River
03. Rights of Passage
07. The Last
08. On Giants
Run Time: 42:12
Release Date: July 31, 2012
Check out the album: ‘Networks’