October 5th, 2016 | Album reviews

Hen House

A Venice quintet that used to play the Smell and now romps at the Fillmore, IvR are folk-horror folkies wielding an unusual array of instruments, including violins, harp, harmonium, banjo, and sitar. The title track opener starts off like the kind of hypermeolodic Anglo-pop joint they’ve been rolling up since 10cc and XTC but veers into a startling guitar-psych freakout at about the four minute mark before dissolving in a babble. “Infection (Time Grows Thin)” is a Bill Burroughs diseased flesh fantasy set to music vaguely reminiscent of Enoch Light and the Light Brigade and “Become a Crow” is blues rock set at the precise midway point between Elton John and Captain Beefheart. The flamenco-flavored “Matilda’s Galavant” is a long pull on the billabong and “Fukushima” starts off like Garland Jeffreys at his world-weariest before lurching off into Magma slag, sirens and crooning of a three-hundred-year half-life. Such go-go-Godzilla mellows out by album’s end, with “Ole Lujoke” playing us in a blizzard of giddy strings and High Llamas-style tick-tock psychedelia. A radio edit of “They’ll Kill Ya” first smokes, then blazes. Not so much “experimental,” as a mashup of a half-dozen tried-and-true tropes. Blazing and prog-o-licious stuff.

—Ron Garmon