DATE BREAKDOWN: Transient Orca – “Squib Prod Qua”

File Under: Alternative Rock

What crawled out of my phone speakers on Tuesday morning was unexpected at best. Transient Orca’s Squib Prod Qua was a chaotic meltdown of ridiculous proportions and to be perfectly honest, I hated it. I remember distinctly asking myself out loud, “Is that a fucking snare drum?” Because, spoiler alert, it sounded like a snare drum and it really didn’t work. Which is funny, because now, 6 days later, I really don’t care if it’s a snare drum or not. I like the Orca’s sound, and I feel rather removed from those initial impressions. My dislike quickly turned from the band to the production, where it has remained since. This doesn’t sound like it was recorded in a studio, but in fact, it was recorded in a studio.

Musically, this is really unique stuff. Farzanrad shifts vocally between talk/sing rock, a soothing croon, a low hum, and a sort of melodic screech in a way that works surprisingly well. Just skip from “But Better” to “My Music” and you’ll probably get a sense of where I’m coming from. The percussion, while ready to present power where necessary, is mostly minimalistic, but carries a distinct ability to highlight the more subtle tonal shifts. The guitar really outshines the bass, but in part that’s where the production flaws start to appear.

I don’t know anything about Moon Sound Studios. Even writing the name right now, I haven’t looked into it for a second. So maybe it’s a great space with some great output. But solely based on what I’m hearing now, it’s a mess. That snare sound I was talking about earlier? It’s not just the drums. Everything feels tinny. Levels aren’t mixed right, and I don’t even have any knowledge on mixing, but I know when something sounds rough. The guitar is often too loud, burying the vocals just enough to leave me with a headache. Intentional tape hiss is one thing, a wall of sound keeping the listener from the lyrics is another. Granted, the sponaneously chaotic spirit of these songs carries a bit of favor with more free-form production, but when my ears start to hurt I think it’s time to clean up a bit. I mean, my ears are the whole point of this. I’m very invested in my ears.

But again, the songs thankfully speak for themselves. There’s enough artistic merit in Farzanrad’s music to overlook the production flaws to some extent. Lyrically, I’m largely at a loss and that’s where the production hurts. I like the sound, I think it’s really inventive and fun. I’ve had portions of “Seaside” stuck in my head for days, that “ha ha ha” is infectiously awesome, but if I can’t make out the words am I limiting my enjoyment? Am I losing the point? I’m definitely limiting my understanding.

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Highlights include: I’m Waiting,” “Seaside,” and “Riders

You can stream Squib Prod Qua here.

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Going on a blind date with Squib Prod Qua:

3/5 stars

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