If this is what cyberpunk was all about, I wouldn't have written it off years
ago (though the William Gibson-written, Keanu Reeves-"acted" "Johnny Mnemonic"
was a bad enough launch of the genre to offer a few laughs). To put it bluntly,
who gives a shit about William Gibson -- the novelist who coined the term
"cyberpunk" -- when you can have your eardrums fried punk-rock style by a bunch
of cyborgs playing Gibson guitars?
That seems to be Man or Astro-Man?'s philosophy.
On Eeviac: Operation Index and Reference Guide, Including Other Modern
Computational Devices Man or Astro-Man? embody a future so bright they not
only have to wear shades, they have to wear cool-looking, matching radiation
It's primarily an instrumental album (though there are vocals on a few tracks,
including "U-235 / PU-239" (RealAudio excerpt) and
"Domain of the Human Race" (RealAudio excerpt). And with
Eeviac, these four boys -- who crash landed in Alabama a few years ago --
top the admittedly narrow category of best atomic-energy-related concept album.
Anyone who has seen the live incarnation of this
Sun-Ra-cloned-by-Devo-by-way-of-the-Ventures band of misfits knows it has based
its entire career on an aliens-playing-guitars schtick (though their "schtick"
is better than other bands' "conceptual art ensemble" pretensions).
When they aren't singing about atoms on planet-rockin' songs like "U-235 /
PU-239," they let the instrumental-song titles do the talking for them, as on
the collaged deconstruction "Krasnoyask-26" and on the blippity-bleepity, almost
funky ditty, "D:Contamination." (RealAudio excerpt). And as for titles, a person could ponder for
hours the meaning of "Within the Mainframe, Impaired Vision From Inoperable
Cataracts Can Become a New Impending Nepotism."
In the years since their debut, Is It ... Man or Astro-Man?, and
especially since they joined the Touch & Go family in 1996, Man or Astro-Man?
have become increasingly experimental, but not as, well, a conceptual art
ensemble. They may have started out as a group playing pretty straightforward
surf instrumentals with a few sci-fi movie samples thrown in, but Eeviac
demonstrates that Man or Astro-Man? can expand on what initially seemed like a
limiting concept, without losing sight of what made them fun in the first place.