The Band Whose Name is a Symbol aka TBWNIAS was and is about creating the ultimate marriage of improvisation and hard rock edged pyschedelic music. TBWNIAS are based out of the legendary Birdman Sounds record shop in Ottawa. The group have now released 11 vinyl only LPs in miniscule editions in which their underground reputation has made them a cult among aficionados of hard thudding, rock riffing kraut.
Masters of the Molehole was released last year on Cardinal Fuzz and sold out within 2 weeks. It was their first LP that was widely available outside of Canada and you can read my review here.
Cardinal Fuzz have been given access to their archives and the result is a 3 LP box set containing 3 of their best LPs – TBWNIAS vs The Purveyors of Conspicuous Authenticity; Scrappy Little Jaw and Pathfinder – which were only previously available as limited edition 100 pressings. The box set is also a limited pressing of 350 and you are probably not surprised to find that it has sold out. The good news is that the box set is available from TBWNIAS bandcamp page as a digital download and is embedded above.
Cardinal Fuzz have selected three excellent albums to highlight the style and range of TBWNIAS. They have a really tight knit sound and create a superb and varied range of songs with great riffing and soloing, excellent use of distortion, feedback, wah and sound effects and solid drumming and bass. There’s a great range of sounds from uptempo distorted riffing to more laid back grooves.
Disc One : TBWNIAS Versus The Purveyors of Conspicuous Authenticity
A great atmospheric opening which has a western, lonesome kind of feel with violin and background sound effects. The drumming has a great live feel along with the bass which propel the song along. The guitar is quite subtle too. The change to a more defined groove has an excellent jam feel building tension through solos to a final release.
Talk Back Fatherland
A swirling synth sound against a bass drone to open, the drumming and bass give a solid momentum with some excellently arranged guitar chords and a lead line. Another great jam feel, some excellent tension at times.
Very distorted guitar to open creates a great atmosphere and there’s some excellent background delayed sounds effects. A great psych sound with a dark edge, there’s a building of tempo with a final slide release. The organ sounds excellent, really adds to the feel.
West Nile Curiosity
Excellent drumming to open, a great presence from the reverb too. The bass gives a great laid back groove and the guitar is layered really well with subtle lead and chords. Another great jam feel to the song which has a great evolution with changes in feel and a slow building tension released to a section with a combination of chime sounds, shakers, ride cymbal and great tension from feedback. The drumming and bass builds tension again gradually with a picked riff to final release.
Excellent distorted riff to open, bass and drumming provide an excellent laid back groove with great changes in feel and solid riffing. The background organ is subtle but very effective.
Disc Two : Scrappy Little Jaw
A synth bass riff and drumming to open have an energy which creates a sense of anticipation, delayed background sounds add a great element. The riffing builds gradually into an excellent jam with layered feedback, background sounds and superb soloing and the song maintains an excellent momentum throughout.
A purposeful opening with slow riff, drumming and guitar scrape effects. Nice harmonised lead guitar line, a solid jam feel with great momentum and edge of tension which builds through the song to a release.
A strummed slightly distorted riff to open leads into a great vibe with drumming, bass and organ. There’s a really nice change of feel to a mellow section with a middle eastern feel picking up the tempo and groove to end the song.
Circus Has Left Town
An excellent bass riff to open, drumming has an uptempo feel. Some great riffing and lead playing with feedback effects.
Blues in Goddamn
A bass riff to open leads to some great riffing, drumming and blues harp too. It’s an excellent uptempo jam with great changes of feel. I really like the use of wah and feedback.
Brass Balls of Daedalus
An excellently atmospheric opening propelled by bass and drumming with riffing, feedback and background sound effects. Quite an edgy and intense sound, some great soloing and a nice release of tension.
Uptempo distorted riffing to open, drumming provides a solid momentum. Almost metal at times, a high energy track with edgy use of feedback returning to the riffing to end the track.
There’s a great contrast between the opening bass, pick scrapes and more ambient synth sound with the distorted guitar and feedback providing an edge to the sound. Another excellent jam.
Disc Three : Pathfinder
We’re All Gonna Die
Great sound effects to open lead into a laid back groove with bass and slow drumming. Distorted guitar adds a great element and a there’s a nice contrast between the cleaner and distorted sounds. I like the building tension and release to a bluesy infused solo to end.
This song has an uptempo feel from drumming and bass with great changes in groove from the riffing. Feedback / distortion and use of wah build tension to a final release.
A bass arp to open is propelled by great drumming leading into a bluesy / surf guitar kind of feel to the lead guitar. An excellent jam quality to the song with use of feedback / distortion and wah.
A great riff to open is accompanied by solid drumming, there’s an urgency to this song which has a great lead line and some excellent sound effects.
There’s a grunge type of feel to the opening of this song with distorted guitar and a heavy bass sound. This leads into a more laid back feel with some excellent sound effects, delay and improvisation before the distorted riff, drumming and distorted lead pick up the pace to a final release.
A kind of heavy rock / metal feel to the opening with riffing, bass and drumming leads into a great groove. The song has excellent improvised qualities with great changes in feel building tension to a final release.
I like the Eastern feel to the opening, it’s quite a sparse sound with sitar, percussive sounds and great drumming which evolves into a groove with a slow release.