Castrovalva – We Are A Unit

Here’s a record that’s been sitting around on my turntable for bloody ages. And only now has it dawned on this reviewer, precisely what has been brooding in the background, what noises have been infiltrating the mind these past few months. This record. Put it this way, We Are a Unit is a stone-classic and has a presence only great LPs have. Now, I never normally review stuff like this, I don’t understand it, I’m not acquainted with the genre, I don’t feel I can do anything justice. Let those who love it explain it, that sort of thing. But even an ingénue like me knows it’s a complete stone classic.

It has the sort of presence and confidence that can’t be formulated, it lives on another planet. You can hear this right from the wailing screech that Intro brings through to the visceral shredding of Pump Pump, which kicks off the LP proper. The music is a marvellously effective vehicle for the main informant on We Are a Unit: the singer, a gentleman called Leemun Smith. He is, not to put too fine a point on it, a bit of a nutter who screeches, squeals and pouts hysterically through the set. But on this evidence he’s a nutter in the speaking in tongues mould: nonsense wisdom, gnomic utterances brought into relief with very funny asides: (the lines in Pump Pump about the Leeds & London attitudes are sharp as). To go all painterly on you, whilst the band creates the template, texture and compositional parameters he splashes on the colour light and tone.

He’s also into coming across as a bit of a gangsta, whether intentionally or not, it’s a funny portrayal: the titles Hooliganz are Us or Outlawz are slapstick titles, surely not intended to be taken seriously. Hooliganz are Uz is some demented, bastardised soul-funk thang with the sort of idiocy only seen on Ceramic Hobs records. It’s brilliant.

You hardly get a chance to register the assault, as the LP is that classic, punky, Ramones length (25 minutes or so) so the glutinous mass of sounds found on the hyperactive That’s What I’m Talking About, Bison Scissor Kick or the gloopy sludge that is Thuglife are not easily digestible on one listen. But in some ways that’s the fun of it, this record isn’t here to please you, it’s here to take over.

Told you I couldn’t review this stuff well, shit review of a truly great LP.