“He listened for muddiness, the sense of actual musicians playing actual instruments in an actual room.” (Egan, 2010, p. 22)
Plastic Section have now been around for a while, starting initially (and occasionally still performing) as a Ben Edwards solo project, before acquiring more musicians to become a proper band. They have released two previous albums, “Plastic Section” (Panda Records, 2013), which is reviewed here, and “Combination Special” (Colorcode, 2015), which is reviewed here. “Frenzy in the City of Hell!” is thus their third album in just four years which is fantastic productivity!
The line-up this time is band stalwarts Ben Edwards (vocals, guitar, harmonica, melodica) and Put Wednesday Suksriwan (drums), with Pok Wannarit Pongprayoon moving across from bass to backup second melodica and introducing new bass-player Chigusa Tomita (who contributes backing vocals and one track “Can I Twist?”). I wouldn’t call “Frenzy in the City of Hell!” a concept album, but it definitely has a common theme and that would be life in this big crazy city called Bangkok. Indeed, with song titles such as “Frenzy”, “I Quit”, “City of Hell”, “Overboard”, “City of Angles”, “Blow Up”, and “Leaving Here”, this is a farewell ode to Bangkok; a place many of us enter but few have the strength to ever truly leave.
A selection of my favourite tracks runs as follows:
- “Frenzy” – First song off the blocks is a foot-stomper that careens along at the speed of a screaming guitar. Does what it says on the tin!
- “I Quit” – This is a staple of the live shows and a song for anyone who despises their job. Sample lyrics: “I’d rather drink muddy water and sleep in a hollow log than work like a slave for some psychopathic hog.”
- “City of Hell” – Down south there’s a signpost that says ’Bangkok 666km’ and that’s what this incandescent rocker of a song is about, Hell City. Sample lyrics: “Crazy primal music screaming in your ear. A meal of weed and whiskey all washed down with beer.”
- “Blow Up” – My vote for best track on the album. This epic chugs along, starting slowly before building into a rising crescendo of blistering noise. Recommended!
- “Red Hotel” – A slow-burn album-closer, a harmonica-fuelled tribute to any number of lonely empty hotel bars city-wide, and a spiritual sequel to “Red Velvet” from “Combination Special”.
“Frenzy in the City of Hell!” has been released as 300 limited edition CDs. Get yours now before they’re all gone by buying one at DJ Siam, 1979 and unknown pleasures, or Nong Taprachan. In addition, you can purchase and download Plastic Section’s entire back catalogue here, including several digital-only EPs that never had a physical release, for the Plastic Section fan who must have everything. Buy them all now!
“High-flying nuns, meddling monks,
faceless ones, corporate punks
had it up to here
pack up all the gear
so long thank you
for all the fish
guess I used up
my last wish.”
-Plastic Section, “Leaving Here”, 2016.
Egan, J. (2010). A visit from the goon squad. New York: Knopf.