Thursday, August 03, 2006

Life With Art

For some reason we've started seeing a lot of seemingly coincidental references recently to Life Without Buildings. Should it ring the faintest bell at most, LWB were between 1999 and 2002 a Glasgow art school-formed band rooted, well before anyone else was, in the frictionless post-punk-funk of PiL, ESG and the Pop Group, with elements of the Fall and Sleater-Kinney. Their 2001 album Any Other City, released on the briefly inestimable Tugboat Recordings, really is one of those albums that fulfils the old maxim about the Velvet Underground, that it sold bugger all at the time but everyone who did buy a copy went out and formed a band at least partly in their image. Well, we did and we haven't, but Paul Smith has said that a love of the record is one of the few things Maximo Park shared on forming, and you can hear their influence on plenty of this current wave of spasmo-New Wave, from Love Is All to the Liars' continuing adventures in sound.

And then there was Sue Tompkins. Singer, technically. Speaker in tongues, more precisely, as she worked to the melodies and rhythm mostly repeating small stream-of-consciousness fragments of picked up phrases and half-words, sometimes unintelligible, sometimes stark with probable hidden meaning, bringing a new dimension to the idea of voice as mere extra instrument. We'd found ourselves wondering where on earth she'd ended up when these references started seeping into our conscious, and what should arrive unbidden on our Myspace bulletin board today (thanks, Rob) but a couple of links that provide an answer. She's, inevitably, become a modern artist, this Scotsman piece from January suggesting she's taken it in much the same way she took her vocal cadences (from an modern art site: "She uses found objects, magazines and text to create her own very unique and indi­vidual aesthetic. Her performances are a hypnotic experience where she uses repe­tition and rhythm to create a genuinely emotive reading"), although this YouTube clip suggests that she's approaching it more linearly these days. She's not wanted for work, in any case.

Anyway, here's some mp3s:

PS Exclusive, the opener from Any Other City
Juno, also from the album
Is Is And The IRS, an earlier single
New Town live in Sydney, from what's left of their official site

Oh, and here's the lyrics, as supplied to that site by the drummer. There were published lyrics?!


Tom said...

Hero! The Leanover was the completely unexpected highlight of Rough Trade Post Punk - fantastic song. Always meant to find some more by them.

Anonymous said...

Sue was actually an artist long before the band, and her performances now aren't much different from what they were before she joined the band. She's also been pretty well respected as a visual and performance artist, often with her sister Hayley, since I guess the early nineties, so the fact that she's starting to get things like Beck's Futures now is a payoff from years of work as an artist, not from one album with the band.

Robert (ex-Lwb)

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