The gravelly Australian voice intoning the words of wisdom puts one in mind of bluff art critic Robert Hughes, (a scary thought indeed, as I for one don't need Robert Hughes going all New Age on me thank you very much…)
Black Cab – Jesus East
http://www.konkurrent.nl/ stickman records
Now then, who can resist a bit of rousing classic alternative rock?
I might as well point out that this release is derivative as hell. I couldn't pull the wool over your ears and pretend it isn't to be honest... you'd rightly call for my blood. Still, whatever this record may lack in originality is more than compensated for in rousing, (if somewhat pompous), reaffirmations of and homages to the true spiritual leaders of alternative white boy rock. Let's look at it in more detail.
The opener, Hearts on Fire, sees a classic Neu! drumbeat coupled with multilayered, ethereal trickery. There's a great Rother-esque guitar lick amidships too. It's exciting stuff indeed and sets the pace splendidly. Following that, Jesus East presents us with the emotional flip side of this record; a sonic hybrid bringing to mind the Jesus and Mary Chain and Spiritualised, the song is drenched in echo-y strumming guitars drenched in delay effects and laconic vocal lines very reminiscent of Messrs Pierce and Reid. It's a beautiful piece nonetheless. Ooofph, it had to happen... three tracks in and we've encountered our first tabla and sitar sample. The laconic voice reappears on Another Sun as if to reaffirm the track's druggy intention. Still, as with the previous two numbers, treading on well worn sonic paths is in no way a hindrance. Following our emotional "comedown", Underground Star is in many ways the highlight of the LP. Drawing heavily on traditional teenage rock aspirations, a driving Neu! rhythm is put to good use to create a fabulously dance-y number. Hand claps and a Kraftwerk-inspired synth-break all add to the fun.
Sitars are wheeled out again for 13 Days, a meditation that reminds one of Primal Scream at their most horizontal. Following that is Surrender. Now quite why this song reminds me of a commercial trance track I can't say. Maybe it's the melody line? Still, its uplifting stuff, especially with the pulsating and brutally simple bass line underpinning it all. After this exuberance, Randy Sez comes across as a mere interlude before Simple Plan, a Bunnymen-esque song-swirl, replete with Will Sergeant style guitar part. Yet again, it's a thrilling if none too original reappraisal of some of rock's finer moments...
Sadly the LP ends on two rather duff tracks. Valiant is syrupy stuff, effectively a soundtrack to a story - a la the Orb - but sans humour. The gravelly Australian voice intoning the words of wisdom puts one in mind of bluff art critic Robert Hughes, (a scary thought indeed, as I for one don't need Robert Hughes going all New Age on me thank you very much...) Even more disconcertingly, Mr Hughes (as we shall call him, tho' it's actually the old Grateful Dead manager) starts rabbiting on about... yep... the bloody Grateful Dead. Jesu... Last track The Path starts promisingly enough, with lots of sitars and the like, but then the dreaded Mr H returns to tell us that "most things don't matter", a phrase that is put on a loop and repeated ad nauseum. I know it's meant to be an uplifting moment, but cynical old me couldn't help but think of the crappy LP Consequences that Peter Cook made with Godley and Cream. In case you didn't know, Cookie just talks dribble over a self-important soundtrack. The Path is similar.
Shame. Still I shouldn't moan. When this LP is good, it is very, very good. Worth a spin.
Words: Richard Foster.