Record Review 

R.E.M.'s Peter Buck guest-stars on this intriguing new disc from the Bambi Molesters, a Croatian instrumental surf rock band. Recorded in Slovenia and Seattle, Sonic Bullets: 13 From the Hip opens with "Theme From Slaying Beauty," a tune written by lead guitarist Dalibor Pavivic, whose baritone licks plunge deep into Duane Eddy twang. Buck joins in on the song's bridge, while R.E.M. touring band member Scott McCaughey contributes eerie Ventures in Space-style organ chords.

As soothing and as menacing as an ocean tide at twilight, the quietly beautiful mood piece "Corazon Del Loco Jorge" features haunting Spanish narration as Buck's fuzz-tone bass burns like salty ocean spray in the background. "Last Ride" finds the Molesters venturing into spaghetti western territory. Pavivic's guitar shimmers like a distant mirage over galloping percussion; ethereal whistling punctuated by sharp, sudden chants recalls Ennio Morricone's Fistful of Dollars soundtrack. Other notable tracks include "Tremble & Shake," a bouncy dance number with a powerful undercurrent, co-written by American indie record mogul Art Bourasseau.

Sonic Bullets concludes on an unusual note with "Chaotica." In this lengthy number, Buck's unsettling backward-masked guitar samples buzz like hornets around a gentle bass rumble -- attracted, perhaps, by the sweet chiming of McCaughey's vibraphone. It's a fittingly strange finale to an album filled with moments of dark beauty.


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