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Daniel Amos

Darn Floor-Big Bite

Harvest Rock Syndicate Winter 1987/88
5 points out of 5
by Mark Eischer

Darn Floor, Big Bite is an exercise in discovery a moody, magnificent album which defies easy description. Each listening brings new insights, impressions building up like the coats of lacquer on a Japanese jewel-box. Maybe this shouldn't even be called a 'review.' A review is after the fact, past-tense a summation. I'll be frank-I'm still in the process of absorbing Da's newest record. Chalk it up to the weakness of language, I guess.
Greg Flesch continues to amaze as Da’s resident mad scientist of Guitar and Attendant Technology. His innovative, angular guitar effects complement Terry Taylor's provocative lyrics. Tim Chandlers dissonant bass lines crawl like big lizards through the underbrush of engineer Doug Doyle's mixes. Ed McTaggart again contributes excellent artwork and of course, Big Drums.
The album's basic idea is that all human attempts to describe God fall short and fail. A thought Which - has probably never creased the brow of Chris Christian, it is basically just another variation on the "now we see as through a glass darkly" theme.
Taylor adds a new twist by relating humanity's futile attempts at grasping the Divine to the story of Koko the Gorilla, a primate some scientists taught to 'sign" simple words. The gorilla's best attempt at describing the experience of an earthquake came out as 'darn' floor, big bite.' Terry Taylor apparently read that line in National Geographic, a little light went "Sproing!" ' and the rest is history, as the animal kingdom provides its richest literary alussion since Lassie, Come Home.
Calling the Koko experiment "sign language” is itself a faulty description, as I discovered when I tried to explain the album to a friend of mine who works as an interpreter for the deaf. She didn't really see much humor in it in fact, she was rather offended by the whole Koko idea, as though it were somehow a putdown of deaf people. So it goes.
"The Unattainable Earth" continues the communication-as-distortion theme, propelled along by some of the album's most memorable hooks and- a looping guitar riff reminiscent of the Beafles' Revolver period.
Da fanatics looking for their newest cult Classic need look no further than the opening track, "Return of the Beat Menace." Terry Taylor takes on the Baton Rouge Bomber with this account of a backwoods ayatollah gone hog-wild. The song is not so much about rock-bashing, though, as about clashing cultures and media manipulation. At the downlink end of the televangelist's satellite network sits an eskimo "He buys a suit and tie/re-styles his hair like girls in Tupelo/and sings 'Sweet Bye and Bye." It's too real to be funny.
In "Strange Animals," Taylor applies the theme to human relationships: "If I were to give you/an animal's name/Could I keep you locked/in a (age in my brain?" Taylor will probably win few friends among Biblical Inerrantists, thanks to the implications of this albums theme. Yet, for all its dissonance and angularity, its tribalistic Techno-Primitive rage, Darn Floor, Big Bite is ultimately a prayer for deeper understanding. The title song sums it up: "Illuminate my muddled/Sweep the shadows from my mind/so I might imagine what you are like/and understand the great design.”
"The Shape of Air" seems to quote the melody of Amy Grant's 'I Can Fly. " Whether the reference is intentional or not, it helps create a sense of innocence and wonder which concludes the record.