uniw Tools is an art-rock outfit from Japan. Like cohorts Buck Tick, GT shows a leaning toward industrial beats and metal guitars for much of their 1998 album Dazzle. However, the combination is often much more than the sum of its parts. GT has a knack for mixing melodic elements into distorted chaos, the major melodic instrument being the vocals of lead singer Full. I'm a sucker for juxtaposition like that, I guess.
Dazzle can be separated into 2 distinct halves, with one track in between not fitting particularly well on either side. The first five songs neatly fall into the "distorted industrial breaks + hard-rock guitar riffs" category with ease. "Border of Taboo" starts the album off with electronic buzz and some sampled narration by a British woman before kicking into the beat and singing. "Baby's One Do" and "Maggot Gun" continue the foray, with slightly different and enjoyable takes on the theme. "Grazing" stands out with a blazing distorted jungle beat, electronics, and some Eastern-flavored guitar. "Vanity" comes across as a bit too reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails' "Heresy."
Here's where things take a turn. "Tone" isn't really like anything else on the album. While it keeps the distorted-beat motif, the track is much more hip hop, with cut-and-paste jazz samples, strummed guitar, and a vinyl crackle over the entire song. The vocals are muted and slightly altered, and delivered rhythmically, much more rap than art-rock.
The transition from "Tone" to the second half of the album is even more jarring. While the beats are still hard, the distortion is completely gone. The guitars are light, and even acoustic in places. The tempo is slowed to ballad pace. The vocals are still strong, but the juxtaposition between the melody of the singing and the hard distrotion of the beats is gone. Everything blends together into sonorous pop songs -- not bad, but nothing special, and a huge shift from the first part of the album.
Dazzle's radical shift calls up Guniw Tools' shift in style. The industrial rhythms, distortion, and metallic guitars have been gone from subsequent releases in favor of pop balladry even more saccharine than the second half of Dazzle. I see this as a loss -- had Guniw Tools continued to refine the sound from the first half of Dazzle, GT might have created something truly revolutionary.
Reviewed by: Gavin Mueller
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01