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The Corn People - "Three Sisters" album review

Did you know there is a Pittsburgh-based version of The Residents? The Corn People are a jam band playing synths with a backstory setup about receiving mysterious musick and sightings of strange beings. The, uhh, messengers are delivering these albums that they are receiving from the Corn People each month of this year. Three Sisters was just released this month of May.

Before I wrote this review, I did some background research and discovered that their album before this one, Stay Starched!, has an album cover that looks a lot like the art I did for a game that I was working on called Super Market Brothers. All that art was groceries that I had pfotographed, reduced the color of, and then added some text in the place of logos and such. It's kind of eerie. None of mine had a barcode though. Another weird similarity is that my friends and I had created a character named Cornhead who later became St. Cornhead. The Corn People all have corn heads like that character, but that's clearly the influence of The Residents at work. On to the review!


Nihilson's Black Tea from Super Market Brothers
So the cover is really high contrast and low-fidelity so to speak. I like that the cornstalks kind of look like people. While I don't like how the band's name is displayed (hard to see and poofy letters), I do really like the title font and design. I also liked the strange woodcut look of the woman in the corn; I liked it until I realized it was just taken from a coin. That's just lazy. It also seems sort of questionable to use Native American imagery, but I don't know the identity of this band at all. They are pretty upfront about this album relating to a myth though.

"Mutant Maize" is the first track on here. It has a very nice bubbling sound to the synths with a poppy hook like a Megaman game or something. This track is all instrumental. It's energetic and bouncy, and I really like it. Next is "Yellow Journalism", combining springy sounds in the verse with a hollow tone for the chorus. Just like the first track, this is all instrumental. "Yellow Journalism" is more dramatic and moody, though the heavy tremolo on the main instrument in the verse is a bit much and almost gets in the way. I really like the mysterious voices at the end crying into the darkness, wordless, just another instrument. "Nuclear Rare" is the third track on Three Sisters. This one is my favorite so far. It's a little slower and almost happy-go-lucky. It reminds me, again, of a video game. I like the dissonance a lot and the chorus-y effects. Though the tremolo is still here, it isn't used so much that it becomes tiresome; it is a very strong effect after all. The end has a vocoder doing some very apocalyptic stuff, orders from a machine master. "Karawane" is the fourth track. It means "caravan" in German, and it is also the name of a Dada poem by Hugo Ball. The track on here is creepy. It reminds me of something I did on my Ghost Stories album, ghostly voices carousing into a  cacophony of caverns. Such ends what would seem to function as the first side.

The title track begins the next section. "Three Sisters" has a carnival feel, and it reminds me of musick from the early Sonic the Hedgehog games, though obviously a much clearer composition. A siren cuts through the mix for the majority of the song. I'm not big on that siren, but I do like the replacements that come soon after in fuzz and more hollow notes. "Bewitched" sounds like something from Neu!, a computer journey if I ever heard one. It's very interesting, sounds scattering to static and sweeping winds. "Ten Thousand Years Young" is more a standard song again. It's kind of a carnival again, though I like this better than the title track. The production on the drums also sounds different, cleaner and more prominent. I really enjoy the bass synth here and that saw sound. Some of it is too much though, those wacky circus sounds again. "Subject to Insanity" is the final song. This one has some cheap sounding synth horns that I kind of find amusing but kind of don't care for.

Three Sisters is certainly an interesting album. I'm not really set on it, unfortunately. I do like a lot of the sounds, but I feel like the songs go on too long. They just sort of try out various sounds also, though I guess that's the intention - the Bandcamp page says that The Corn People are like a new wave Grateful Dead. Anyway, they clearly have potential, but I can't give this album more than a Neutral. I'll stop back in the future to see how this cryptozoology story plays out.

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