Used Alien Mind - Positive Mental Theme

01-Feb-2006 12:39 am

Contributed by: pete

Used Alien Mind - Positive Mental Theme
15 Track CD
2004 Zonked Records
[Speaker] Listen to Inside [Speaker]
Enema Rating:
Much like NIN is Trent Reznor, Used Alien Mind is Mike Leporte. There is a comparison that can be made between the two, but I wouldn't want to mislead NIN fans into believing they will truly enjoy the music on this 15 track CD. Mike Leporte claims to have "a distaste for all that is mainstream", which is fortunate because it is highly unlikely he will accidentally end up a hypocrite. I should mention that I think Used Alien Mind is a great name, and I even like the CD cover art with its strange looking device. But when it comes to the 15 tracks on the CD, I find myself searching to provide constructive criticism, rather than just being cruel. I haven't completely succeeded.

I started out listening to Positive Mental Theme with, well, a positive mental outlook. Hmm, perhaps I was being manipulated by the name of the album? So I turned on my iPod, whipped out my little black notebook and started in. I found the first track, Kid Mental, to be a shock... and, as I learned, it turns out the first track is a good indicator of everything that is to follow. After a 5 second opening, the vocals start in and are consistently there throughout the entire song with very few, if any, breaks. The song does contain an interesting guitar part that is one of the highlights of the entire album. I was kind of hoping this song was just a prelude to different things to come, but as it turns out, the repetition in the music and vocals is consistent throughout the first four tracks and by the fifth song I realized that it's not actually leading anywhere; wherever it is, it's already there.

Without going into the details of each track, which could potentially be as tedious as the songs themselves, I will point out that at least some of the tracks contain mildly interesting space rock background music. But all songs are lacking in any compositional structure or changes, the kind of things that generally make music interesting. As the album continues on through the remaining ten songs, the repetitive nature of the music, and even more so with the vocals, wore my patience thin.

Despite the musical repetition, if all fifteen tracks were instrumental, the space-rock/industrial sounds could potentially provide tolerable background music. But the vocals are omnipresent and seemingly endless, starting almost at the beginning of each song and are demanding your attention right to end. I could likely overlook the fact that the vocals are raspy with a whispering sound of someone trying not to wake the children, but I can't seem to get past that they are constantly searching for the right note, monotonous, off-key, meandering, and have a total lack of melody. The lyrics don't help, either; in many cases, it sounds like they were made up on the spot (although I can swear I can hear him turning the page in Cold Touch to continue reading the lyrics). Imagine Syd Barrett at his most freaked out, with laryngitis, and the inability to stop himself from talking.

After ten tracks, I attempted to tune out the vocals to try to listen to the music in a search for something good to write about, but because the vocals are constantly on, with almost no breaks except a brief section with a very low-key whisper in Postcards From Outer Space, it is difficult. But I am strong and with my eyes closed I was able to focus on the music for at least a few minutes. During this time I was able to hear interesting, distorted swirling guitar riffs and some interplay between instruments. I would recommend that Mike Leporte use these musical ideas only as the basis and then create a song structure that includes some changes. It would also help if the vocals weren't nearly so constant. An alternative strategy that I believe would improve this album greatly would be if the vocals were broken into sections (verses and a chorus is an old standard on which to fall back on) and with a planned melody. Something to highlight and work with the music, rather than against it.

If Used Alien Mind is to find an audience, Mike Leporte needs to focus on his strength: his ability to create spacey guitar rock. And he needs desperately to work with another musician who can be more creative with the lyrics and vocals, bringing meaning and melody to the song. If he's able to pair up with someone who compliments his skills, I can imagine writing quite a different review.

To end on a positive note, Mike appears to be very conscious and skilled with his marketing, which could significantly help any future endeavours. I'll be interested to hear where he takes Used Alien Mind from here. With a few changes to his musical strategy, it is possible that Used Alien Mind will find a following of dedicated fans.

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