I didn't know what to think of this for a long time. Now I do. I don't like it. It's a very angular record that never really comes together. A lot of the elements that were present on Trout Mask Replica are there - the abrasive guitar parts that run in counter-intuitive lines from low to high notes and back again, the fractured arrangements that barely stand still for a moment... but something is missing. While it's possible to get right inside Trout Mask and see the chaotic arrangements as a rational and astounding whole, Doc At The Radar Station doesn't have that feel. The music doesn't seem to be as organic, doesn't have the soul.
The Captain may declare "we're the best batch yet", but I don't think he's right.
It has it's moments, but these are few and far between, and rarely maintained for the duration of a track. "Hot Head" has some excellent guitar parts, and "Dirty Blue Gene" and "Best Batch Yet" have some complicated but infectious grooves, but they seem to fizzle out before the end. Meanwhile the Captain's vocal is increasingly hard to listen to. On "Run Paint Run Run", he sounds like he's been smoking fat cigars that he lit by striking a match on his tonsils. That really overshadows what might otherwise be a standout track.
Elsewhere, "Carrot Is As Close As A Rabbit Gets To A Diamond" is a ponderous but uninteresting piece, "Telephone" is similar to Trout Mask's "Pena", but less successful and tracks I've heard a great deal about like "Flavor Bud Living" and "Making Love to a Vampire With a Monkey on My Knee" for all their radical ideas are underwhelming.
Doc At The Radar Station may be high art rock n' roll, but the intention to make great art doesn't necessarily achieve great art. This time I think the Captain's missed his mark: it's all right, but it's not amazing.