"It's like a very straight, very commercial Sigur Ross. Ooh now I know you're all going to turn away in droves, but still, there's no denying this LP's charms."
Alias & Tarsier – Brookland and Oakley (Southern Records/Konkurrent)
A lovely piano run starts this LP off, soon accompanied by a beautiful woman's voice and a set of atmospheric sequenced synths. It's not the thing I normally listen to, but on first hearing this track, Cub, I was hooked. It's sugary but luckily has enough wistfulness to ensure it never waddles around in a comfort zone of its own making. It's like a very straight, very commercial Sigur Ross. Ooh now I know you're all going to turn away in droves, but still, there's no denying this LP's charms. Rising Sun is a lot harder in its sonic arrangements, huge, over-attentive drum patterns beat off any complacency and ease that the first track might have engendered. Last Nail is just beautiful, even with the incredibly startling rap Alias contributes half way through the song. The ambient nature of this album is best seen on Dr C. which sounds off as a simple strummed ballad offset by vocals that don't half sound like Bjork. Suddenly the whole thing blossoms out into a lovely pastoral pop song, cunningly offset by MC Alias's break beats.
Anon signals a change of mood, a darker stage is set, drums are overt and menacing and the vocals sound pretty serious and sanctimonious. 5 Year Eve is initially stripped down in sound - Tarsier's vocal is accompanied by a cello or two and a collection of nervous beats. Half way through a guitar starts a racket and the whole thing takes off and spirals into a swirl of epic proportions. Following that, Plane That Draws a White Line seems understated and very commercial, still it just about walks the line between self-centred pap and interestingly morose navel gazing. Luck and Fear is far more interesting in that it doesn't appear to belong to this LP at first. Rapper dose appear to deliver the fastest vocals in th history of recorded sound. The track has more in common with Endtroducing DJ Shadow than the rest of the LP. In fact the rap is extraordinary in its lyric content. Get a load of this.
Yet the relative upper hand of "in tow" is constant
In the needle and sickle of struck luck and odds set
On its human objects, and their slit in the process
Of the dying concept, in all glacial time
And it's mind like prospects, all numberlined.
So disposed to clock threat, and male pattern blind
Ness to the leather and tendon raw ever
Drawn now and the tender of the "once you" collector.
With its hold on yourself and your dark forked mind.
Now and again Tarsier returns to sing a verse to assure us that we are indeed listening to the LP that began with Cub. Picking the Same Lock is a soft refrain after the bombardment that has just past. Just a guitar, voice and some shimmering effects are present at the beginning. Even when the beat arrives it can't really dislodge the feeling of serenity that this track brings.
Last up is Ligaya which returns to the Bjork-like atmospherics first heard on Cub. Its dreamy and lovely and a track that should have you lounging on the sofa. Good LP all round methinks.
Words: Richard Foster.