Graham Reid | | 1 min read
The hub of this group are Rob Sinclair and David Bowater who appeared at Elsewhere previously when Bowater's label www.ohorecordings.com reissued the 3 Voices album from the early Eighties, like this an album featuring the two of them and a roll call of accomplished, sympathetic guests.
If 3 Voices – one of many avant-garde and innovative albums of the era, most of which have not been reissued – was a bit too far out for listeners, this 10 song outing, which doesn't resile from angularity at times, will be more approachable.
Time has passed and life changes people so Bowater notes that this “shouldn't be considered a follow-up work”.
And indeed it is not, it is a fish of a very different colour (although the cover art of 3 Voices is included on this cover so . . . A nod/bob each way, perhaps?)
Saxophonist/synth player and producer/engineer/mixer Bowater also acknowledges in the brief liner notes that Sinclair did all but a little of the writing, most of the vocals, guitars, bass and more.
Even so, the guest list includes guitarist Bevan Revell, saxophonist Chris Watts, drummer Steve Garden, Helen Bowater on backing vocals (and a sample of a solo violin work) and others.
The immediately interesting song is Bentwaiterman which comes with surreal, almost spoken lyrics and an equally odd, spacious sonic bed of synth glitches and beats.
But there is also a lovely cracked, acoustic ballad Gift of Love which follows, then the dark resonances of Stony Shore located somewhere close to a weary Nick Cave but offset by almost romantic acoustic guitar and flute.
A similar musical dichotomy is at the heart of Surabaya Nights, another broken ballad which has a bed of disconcerting synths weaving in and out. The exotic Night Tango comes with violins but the sense of unease remains.
The final piece is Shebear Spidersnake, an eight and half minute speak-sing poem with complex accompaniment from guitars, saxophones and drums which places it closer to avant-garde art music.
These are unusual songs on musical and lyrical levels, yet that sensibility of subverting forms and norms means this doesn't give itself up on casual listening.
This is a deep dive into places of a restless psyche, if you are up for that.