Couch Potato: DVD Review: A Purge of Dissidents


A Purge of Dissidents

2007, Not Rated

Twisted animation with a raucous, cacophonous soundtrack, A Purge of Dissidents is the product of a unique collaboration between graphic artist Dalek and Noise Rock collective HAZE XXL. Led by Tom Hazelmeyer of Amphetamine Reptile Records, HAZE XXL also includes members of The Melvins and Grant Hart from Hüsker Dü. Dalek's humorous and subversive artwork has been exhibited in galleries all over the world. This DVD, his first foray into animation, is erratic and uneven but ultimately rescued by the beautifully brutal soundtrack of screeching feedback, fuzzed-out bass, waves of ominous organ swirls, creepy overdriven synth bleeps and pounding drums. In theory, a soundtrack is commissioned, composed and superimposed to accompany and hopefully enhance the visual imagery. In this case, the scary score forces its way to the fore, tossing the animation into the backseat. Though a tad too slow to keep up with the bombastic soundtrack, the animation is not without its virtues. Following the impulsive exploits of a bug-eyed, asymmetrical Space Monkey with a wicked grin and a penchant for stabbing stuff including his own green flesh, the 10 animated installments that comprise A Purge of Dissidents tell no linear tale. Representing a random assortment of violent fantasies acted out with an array of whack-a-mole hammers, guns that shoot diamonds and his trusty knife, we see the maniacal, multi-fisted Space Monkey clutching his ever-present scalpel while lasers, eyeballs and rivers of blood shoot out of his self-inflicted wounds. Sound like fun? Actually, it is pretty hilarious stuff. But again, I gotta throw the bulk of my props at the jagged, unpredictable hostility of HAZE XXL's soundtrack that consistently succeeds where the animation often falters. That said, this is one of the coolest collaboratives I've encountered in a long time. A totally instrumental affair, the soundtrack includes bonus tracks featuring vocal contributions from Jon Spencer, Craig Finn of The Hold Steady and David Yow of Jesus Lizard. (Ric Hickey) Grade: B-

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