Posts Tagged ‘Album revie’

AdderStone Records – 4th October 2019

James Wells

Originally released in November 2018, Jo Quail’s Exsolve has been re-released, remastered, as a double vinyl effort on her own, newly-founded, AdderStone Records. It’s been expanded to include a new fourth track, ‘Reya Pavan’.

If a mere eleven months feels like an uncommonly short span of time, consider the fact that the original release wasn’t available on vinyl, and also the year Jo has had. With support slots with Mono and Emma Ruth Rundle, her profile has very much been on the up, and her performances have been consistently spellbinding.

Quail’s appeal was always likely to be subject to slow diffusion. While we’ve become accustomed to post-rock and experimental music, a solo cellist who conjures sound like a full rock band is essentially unique. Moreover, she’s more a purveyor of prog than neoclassical, and this really doesn’t sit readily with contemporary trends, however accommodating and broad-minded and receptive audiences are.

Christopher Nosnibor frothed effusively about the album on this very site a year ago and all of that still stands: this is a stunning album, and the depth and range of the sound is incredible. It has grace, it has power, it has impact, and it has blistering solos that sound like guitars. I’d challenge anyone to sit and listen to this without any forewarning and consider for a second this is the work of one person, or a solo cello album.

The new, additional composition, ‘Reya Pavan’ is the most overtly orchestral track on the album, and it oozes sadness rom the heart, while underpinned by a sonorous rhythmic throb that adds a very different dimension.

It’s not really a re-valuation as such, or a reissue, but a timely reboot, and Jo Quail is a singular and innovative artist who deserves the attention.

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Jo Quail - Exsolve reissue

Metropolis Records – 23rd August 2019

In my world, The Legendary Pink Dots were just that: legendary. Heard of, often, heard, never. I’m embarrassed by this, but also accepting. There’s simply too much music and too little time, and when confronted with a band with an output as vast as theirs, where it’s impossible to know where to start, it’s easier to simply give up without starting. It’s a hurdle I overcame with The Fall in the early 90s, and maybe, just maybe, it’s time to make the first attempt at an inroad into The Legendary Pink Dots.

The album’s first cut, ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ is structured around a shuffling beat and some sparse, echo-soaked guitars. It’s got a vaguely psyche edge, but having spent the last decade immersed in some of the most far-out avant-garde oddities emerging from all corners of the globe, it seems pretty tame and safe to my ears. This is largely true of the album as a whole, although it does have some more interesting moments: ‘Junkyard’ sounds like it could be a recent Foetus outtake, and ‘Neon Claculators’ plasters scraping electronic pings and quacks and parping sax over a bubbling Donna Summer synth rhythm track before drifting into some kind of avant-jazz spacerock oddity, and ‘Itchycoo Shark’ at least had a vaguely amusing title, but sounds a bit David Tibet only minus the pseudomystical bollocks, and ‘The Photographer’ is yawningly neofolk.

The trouble – if ‘trouble’ isn’t too strong a word – with sustaining such a lengthy career as an ‘experimental’ outfit is that all too often the hunger to innovate fades, and the songwriting gradually falls to formula. I can’t think of many artists who’ve become weirder, wilder, and more challenging over time, especially not over a career spanning almost 40 years.

Angel In The Detail is 50% atmospheric and interesting, 50% tedious and pedestrian, subscribing to too many well-worn ‘experimental’ tropes, which the band themselves were instrumental in establishing. It’s ok, and given their reputation, fanbase and career place (over 40 albums and counting), is likely to be just what the fans are after. And fair enough: they’ve nothing to prove at this juncture, and questions of relevance are ultimately irrelevant.

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Legendary Pink Dots – Angel In The Detail