Graf Orlock's third full-length and tenth release overall, Crime Traveler is the most ambitious project to date from a band that is all about ambition. With Crime Traveler, Graf Orlock has outdone itself on every level. The Los Angeles enigma has beaten itself at its own game and the big winner is you.
The world is familiar with the Graf Orlock method by now: the LA quartet's music is inspired by its hometown's biggest export, movies. Its records are riddled with movie samples, its lyrics are actual snippets of dialogue ripped directly from scripts, and its song titles are DVD chapter titles. This is the band that based an entire EP on Michael Mann's 1995 De Niro-Pacino vehicle, Heat. Other films pillaged for inspiration include The Terminator, Predator and RoboCop.
Graf Orlock mastermind Jason Schmidt (also rumored to be the owner of Vitriol Records, a college history professor, and one of LA Weekly's "most interesting people in Los Angeles,") offered a peek behind the curtain when he stated that the band's efforts add up to one big social commentary. Using the language of Hollywood, the ultimate symbol of Western capitalist excess, the band seeks to expose social and political absurdities. Whether or not you buy that line, the scope of the project and the band's commitment to it are nothing short of staggering.
Case in point: it has packaged its releases in some of the most insane packaging ever created. 2011's Doombox EP arrived in the form of an actual size, card stock "boombox" that housed CD and vinyl versions of the EP and which Revolver Magazine named "Packaging of the Century." The Destination Time Tomorrow LP featured a pop-up paper "chestburster," a nod to the film Alien, in its gatefold. An earlier release was packaged in a backpack.
Furthermore, the band has toured the far reaches of the globe with an absolute vengeance, repeatedly hitting Japan, Indonesia, Australia, Eastern Europe, and Puerto Rico, along with more routine destinations.
Another piece of the puzzle: the music completely rips. Graf Orlock makes a stop-on-a-dime version of hardcore, bursting with blastbeats and breakdowns and sweet riffs that are perfectly placed so as to elicit maximum headbanging and smiles. While it has a whole lot of Slayer up its sleeve and knows how to wield it, ultimately Graf Orlock is a punk band, rooted in the DIY aesthetics of the post-Black Flag scene.
Twelve years into Graf Orlock's career, enter Crime Traveler. Having spent more than a decade pilfering words, ideas, and images from Hollywood, the band has now taken the next step. Crime Traveler is an album based entirely on an as-yet-unreleased film the band wrote, directed, and starred in itself. The lyrics consist of dialogue written by the band; the samples are from the band's own film. Graf Orlock has flipped the script and turned the mirror back on itself in the most DIY stunt of the decade: Crime Traveler.
According to Schmidt, the Crime Traveler film tells the story of a French-Canadian assassin who discovers a wormhole and travels back in time to kill American politicians so that Canada can attain superpower status in the future. As the samples selected for the album illustrate, our anti-hero zips through time and space on his mission – rubbing elbows with John Hinckley at the Reagan assassination, witnessing the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and more. Until its theatrical release we can only imagine the cinematic greatness. For now, we have the album.
Musically, Crime Traveler sees Graf Orlock rip harder than ever. The band has honed its style to a deadly science. Stream "A Decent Proposal in a Shitty Alley," from Crime Traveler, via Noisey, here.
Crime Traveler was recorded, mixed and mastered by Kris Hilbert at Legitimate Business Studio in Greensboro, NC.
Deepening the experience and also hereby rendering all other album artwork inferior and obsolete, Crime Traveler is packaged in an actual, full-size, color newspaper, written and designed by the band.
The full tracklist is as follows:
1) Bad Cell Service on Conn Avenue
2) 600,000 Tons of Explosive Ordnance
3) Afternoon Lunch at the Red Bacchus
4) A Decent Proposal in a Shitty Alley
5) Regional Turf War Spills Blood on Vegas Strip
6) Nursing a Hangover
7) Our Infallible Cybernetic Future
8) Summer Getaway, Mount Hermon
9) Difficult Decision in the Yutani Mess Hall
10) Cheaper, Safer, and Better Than the Real Thing
True to form, Graf Orlock will be touring the world throughout 2016.
Crime Traveler (Vitriol Records, 2016)
Los Angeles EP (Vitriol Records, 2012)
Doombox EP (Vitriol Records, 2011)
Destination Time Today (Vitriol Records, 2009)
Destination Time Tomorrow EP (Level Plane Records, 2007)
Destination Time Yesterday (Level Plane Records, 2006)
Split w/ Greyskull (Dood Records, 2005)
Split w/ Hurry Up and Kill Yourself (Attrition Records, 2004)
Corpserate Greed EP (self-released, 2004)
Graf Orlock EP (self-released, 2004)