Saturday, December 25, 2010

Sweeping The Nation Albums Of 2010: Number 7

Three years ago Domino Recordings, flush with Arctics money, gave quite the push to Archie Bronson Outfit's second album Derdang Derdang and its lascivious blues-laced attack. It didn't work, so the trio went away and came back uncommercial, unsmoothed out and frankly roaring. Coconut is still an intense workout, especially on the part of Sam Windett's vocal chords, but this time it's voluminous, comprehensively fuzzed up, freaked out and roided to the gills. If James Murphy’s DFA sideman Tim Goldsworthy was charged with bringing the psychedelic freakshow somehow down to earth he only really manages it by anchoring it down to danceable structures in place.

The machine-like opener Magnetic Warrior might not automatically get Mark E Smith rushing to note “notebooks out, plagiarists” again, but he’d surely recognise the quasi-stoned groove harking back to his own band’s experiments in northern Krautrock. Here the undulating rhythm is attached to a desperately howling Windett appeal to "don’t let yourself fall apart" and a monstrously fuzzy repetitive riff interrupted only by a squalling solo that heads towards prime Hawkwind territory. Shark’s Tooth adds the death disco element, finding a hook and battering it into submission with discordant noise as bassist Dorian Hobday does his best Peter Hook. Hoola would be mistaken for the post-punk class of 2005 were it not for the maniac tension in Windett’s vocal and the constant sense that everything is about to totally take off. Wild Strawberries' repeated riffs and distorted vocals simultaneously recalls Clinic's Ade Blackburn’s gnomic vocalising and takes it several stages further into an overdriven garagey thrash at the end of which it seems it’s just a race to see who blinks first. Especially coming after Chunk, seemingly an exercise in finding their inner Nile Rodgers, You Have A Right To A Mountain Life/One Up On Yourself proceeds to send things right off the psychedelic hook into plain cachophony, full of melody-free no wave skronking and ripped apart soloing in the midst of which Windett seems to be attempting a muezzin. They know how to take it down a gear after all that whacked out effort, or at least as much as they feel they can. Surrounded by encroaching electronic noise and driven by Mark Cleveland’s relentless motorik drumming it may be, but Bite It And Believe It is actually quite melancholic, a deceptively simple melody doing its best not to be pulled apart. Hunt You Down would almost be an electrified back porch lament, something in there almost resembling an electric banjo, were the lyrical sentiments not chilling for their quiet menace. That's as opposed to the bulk of Coconut, which is about a very loud menace. Their howl, strong as that already was, has been supercharging until it bursts into discordant glory. You can trace a particular psych-rock lineage if you want, but that would suggest stoic learning and reciting from the Mojo history books rather than the lithe, alive sounds of filtered controlled chaos theory. Mostly what it resembles is a whirligig great leap forward into the claustrophobic greatness they’d always only previously poked at.


Shark's Tooth

The full list

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