Steve Lieberman – Arbeiter At The Gate

Steve Lieberman – Arbeiter At The Gate / 2004 Self / 16 Tracks / / / Reviewed 21 February 2004

Hey Steve has actually updated the production quality of the CD face, a nice little touch for someone who is fairly busy in the studio. The production and mixing of “Arbeiter” is still almost painful to listen to, with the first track on the disc, “Rock Me In The Bombshelter” made virtually unlistenable by the continual, cheesy distortion that Lieberman loves. Achieving an Ozzy-like inflection vocally for “Rock Me”, the techno “My Call-Girl” suffers under the atonal flute that is such a hallmark of Lieberman’s music. What it is really heartbreaking about every one of Lieberman’s disc is the fact that Steve falls into some of the most catchy riffs, only to fail to live up to the expectations listeners will have after listening to that one riff, or one song. The multi-vocal echoes that Steve puts on eir voices throughout the disc is yet another point of contention. Is it really too much to gather together random family members or friends to help with the vocals?

The entirety of “Arbeiter At The Gate” has a harder, more-metal mix than the previous Lieberman discs, which tended to either fall in one of two camps: either they were more like Jethro Tull or Steve went for the gusto and put on eir Doc Martens for some punk tracks. There is more than enough music on this disc, as the sixteen cuts nearly fill “Arbiter” – 64 minutes or so of music that mostly mull in the quagmire of poorly programmed electronic drumbeats and a myriad of random noises. Some tracks do break free of the self-imposed limitations that Lieberman has placed. For example, “All-Day Media Player”, exempting the continual distortion fuzz, has an eighties-dance feel to it that could conceivably rattle around listener’s heads.

Steve Lieberman’s discs are almost always setting in some place in my queue, and I really have no idea each time how I am going to write a review about it. Steve is unique, that much can be said, but it isn’t that detached “holier than thou” attitude that many painters and artists seem to have. Rather, Steve is trying so hard to make a coherent yet different album that a number of times one can hear the effort but this effort doesn’t necessarily translate into listenable, solid music. “Arbeiter At The Gate” has a number of these failed efforts, but still shows an evolutions of Lieberman’s style that may eventually get to the refinement where we could hear a solid album from eir.

Top Tracks: None

Rating: 4.0/10