Pepe Deluxé – Queen of the Wave

Bludgeoned by an avalanche of facts and images and layered, quirky sounds, (not to mention fucking weird noises popping up when you least expect them) the best thing is to have patience, and hold on.

http://www.pepedeluxe.com

Golly Mick. Anyone getting the deluxe edition of Queen of the Wave will need to sit down with a cup of tea and a biscuit. To say this double CD / DVD set made by a pair of lunatic Finns, replete with full hardback booklet, all promoting a rock opera about Atlantis took time to digest would be understating it.

The booklet talks of such things as nineteenth century Atlantis fantasists, Joe Meek, recording equipment made for the 1952 Olympics, Nikola Tesla’s tower, and a Stalacpipe Organ. Words such as “Philips SBC MD680” and “RCA Orthophonic hi-fi preamplifier” pepper the text. All this verbage is housed in a (frankly) schizoid booklet that veers stylistically between cartoony 50s schlock and a 2 dimensional, sub Victorian psychedelia. Simply put it can give you eye ache. It really is all too much at times, both visually and aurally.

Which is a pity because there are some fine songs here, some coming on like prime time Lee and Nancy, some very much a chrome-plated mix of the Who, or your fave Sound Gallery compilations or even, at its most toothsome, something that Rice and Lloyd Webber could have thought a jolly conceit. Contain Thyself is a great kinky Finno-Ugric- Goth waltz with a stunning vocal part, whereas Go Supersonic is a nice breezy pop song that nods to the sound Pizzicato Five would struggle to match. The last few tracks on CD1 (I think this one’s called A Dweller On Two Planets) are fine too; loungy, boasting a rich patina of sounds and burnt out cool. My Flaming Thirst is a great track in particular, a sort of Shirley Bassey-tastic torch song, creepy but funny and sexy too. And The Storm sounds like some ridiculous, renegade song from one of those Charlton Heston films about the Bible. Still, all the while you do pine for a bit of space, something to hold on to. You can see why they’ve name checked Joe Meek here, there is the same queasy gesturing, the same lachrymose sentiments, the same hysterical over attention to detail throughout.

Bludgeoned by an avalanche of facts and images and layered, quirky sounds, (not to mention fucking weird noises popping up when you least expect them) the best thing is to have patience, and hold on.

Which is what makes the second CD (which is called An Earth Dweller’s Return but don’t quote me) such a breath of fresh air. Things are held back a bit, and for the most part we get instrumentals like Little Lake and Creatures of The Electric Dirt which give you the listener space to enjoy and wallow in the arrangements and atmospherics, or reworkings of themes from CD 1, which somehow seem to be easier to take on board. The opener, The Secret Forces in the Mountain, along with the sultry Cities in the Air are classic ciné noir tracks, begging to be admitted a part in a soundtrack like Vampyros Lesbos or Get Carter. Leave For Home is a great stomper – possibly the most poptastic track on the LP, replete with some soulful vox and a squidgy beat, all that bit Funkadelic but none the worse for it.

It’s good, really good at times; but like being dragged round stately homes when you’re 7, appreciation can be an exercise that takes time to cultivate. Give it time, get a brew, relax and remember it’s only a record.