Billing itself as an improvisational project by Sean Lennon (The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger) and Greg Saunier (Deerhoof) featuring video projection from artist Martha Colburn, Mystical Weapons don’t really fit in with any of the conventional things you’d expect from a band. The partnership came after Deerhoof played a San Francisco show with Sean’s mum, Yoko Ono, a few years ago, and it seems to be a vehicle for the two to explore their furthest-out musical ideas.
Like one of the Flaming Lips wackier adventures, the thirteen tracks which make up this release range in length from one minute to six minutes and stylistically from blissed out Hawkwind-esque space rock to tortured squeaks and splutters to somnambulant piano jazz. Divorced from their visuals, the monstrous space-rock of ‘Impossible Shapes’ drifts like a spaceship through an asteroid field of jazzy drums and heavy, winding synths. However it’s one of the few tracks that truly stands out. Taster track ‘Mechanical Mammoth' opens with creaks like an old door being swung back and forth, takes in a barrage of oriental chimes and then exists without ever attaching itself to definable melody and approximately fifty percent of the material here can be written off in the same manner.
As any fan of Deerhoof will know Greg Saunier is a fantastic drummer, letting rip with a Bonham worthy barrage on ‘Colony Collapse Disorder’ and pin wheeling off Lennon’s exotic, eastern guitar riffs until the whole mix sounds like Led Zeppelin re-enacting War of the Worlds but most of the shorter tracks like ‘Dirty Neon’ and ‘Distant City’ merely fill time until the phasers kick in.
Overall, it’s an interesting experiment that probably works much more effectively alongside its accompanying visuals but at the risk of missing the point of the exercise, it’s hard not to wish Sean had inherited a bit more of his father’s gift for melody alongside his mother’s penchant for an out-there artistic statement.