Frank Lenz is a musician likely only known well among attentive album credits readers. In the past, he’s added his stellar drumming to Pedro The Lion, Richard Swift and Starflyer 59 recordings, to mention just a few of many. Although one of the tracks on his experimental new solo project is called “Drumb Solo” (A joke about dumb rock concert drum solos?), this is not merely a drumming – or even especially percussive, for that matter – album. Instead, it’s a collection of adventurous soundscapes. [Don’t play it for family at holiday gatherings]. Instead, put on a pair of good headphones, and just get lost in it.
Although Lenz explored groove-oriented sounds with his 2001 solo album The Hot Stuff, this latest effort is by no means particularly groove-oriented. One titled “Metatronix,” with its jazzy drumming and funky melodic line, is about as close as this six-song release gets to an actual jam. You also have to give it to Lenz for coming up with noteworthy and noticeable song titles. One called “Plenty Sex Teen Erection” reads more like a spam email title, than anything obviously musical. This one, by the way, is also another one of the album’s near-jams. “Tiger Beat Singalong” is a song name that may only resonate with women who grew up with teen celebrity magazines in the 70s. To be played while drooling over an old David Cassidy bedroom poster, perhaps.
More representative of the project sonically, is “Ohm Eye God,” which matches tinkling piano notes, with spacey percussion elements. If Beethoven had created his music in outer space, this might just be the way it would have sounded. “Plenty Sex Teen Erection,” speaking of sci-fi, is a little like a Star Wars love ballad. Each of these songs explore sonic space like an astronaut. “Tiger Beat Singalong” closes the recording with an anthemic vibe. Although it includes no actual singing along, one can easily imagine a choir of restless teenagers swaying and vocalizing something sweet and innocent.
Drummers get a lot of grief. There could be books written and filled (if they’re not already in existence) with drummer jokes. And make no mistake about it; Lenz is a great (if severely underrated) drummer. Pyramid, much like those pointy Egyptian structures, however, is structurally complicated and amazing. It is music created by a skilled musician, not merely a skins player. Lenz allowed his imagination to run wild, and the results are especially kooky cool.