Will Sergeant – Things Inside

...a quietly surprising and enervating listen: there are no trademark scathing guitar runs - you get the feeling that the discipline of making a record without an electric guitar has concentrated the mind on the job in hand. And as such the pieces, although intricately worked out, seem to allow other, previously unknown ideas and goals to bubble up to the surface.

 

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This is a marvellous LP, dreamy and boasting an otherworldly vibe that’s redolent of many soundtracks from the seventies. Always the adventurous one in the Bunnymen in terms of creating and exploring sounds, (witness Weird as Fish, Themes from Grind, Via Luonge, etc. ), Will Sergeant has attempted to make something new again with Things Inside - his first acoustic record.

It’s a quiet and unprepossessing record, just like his other solo stuff, Sergeant doesn’t look to browbeat the listener. Whilst some passages couldn’t be created without an extensive knowledge of the weirder end of late 60s and early 1970s underground and avant garde, this is no tribute LP: and certainly there are no real hints to what Sergeant is best known for. There are the odd licks or phrase that are redolent of the Bunnymen: Dragonflies and Eastern Bells have tiny echoes of that big romantic rock sound: memories of the strumming on the Play at Home songs, or the hints of the psychedelia in 1990’s LP with Noel Burke, Reverberation, are sometimes released.

At all times it’s a measured, precise sound –as stated, the creator doesn’t look to scare anyone off with Things Inside, despite Sergeant picking out the musically odd and surreal from rock’s first golden age this is a very accessible and often poppy take on the vibe that so enthuses him. It’s not Daphne Oram, but nor is it anything too mawkish or self-referencing. Rather it’s a very clear headed set of instrumentals, driven by an interest in moulding a sound rather than exploiting any noticeable agenda or ego, despite the ragas and trip outs. Extinction is a chamber piece, not far off the Durutti Column's maudlin vibe. Elsewhere the gossamer thread of intricate, delicately spun guitar lines does an effective job of lulling the listener into a trance: it’s a record reminiscent of Popol Vuh’s otherworldly muse too; (especially on Eastern Bells). People who liked King Creosote and John Hopkins' recent LP will like things like Sandettie Light Vessel on here, I am sure.

There are a few moments where you can pinpoint an antecedent: the opener, Into The 1970’s could come from an outtake from Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, or a soundtrack to one of the Unser Sandmännchen cartoons. Toy Piano Mantra (a definite highlight) is a strange mix of Vampyros Lesbos and some of the more reflective Michael Rother solo LPs, like Katzenmuzik. But then, as we’ve said, there’s a clear headed balance that lightly carries the whole thing and stops it being a tribute piece: Circles, Extinction and Dragonflies float as they should, captured in a prism and the track Raga is just that.

So, a quietly surprising and enervating listen: there are no trademark scathing guitar runs - you get the feeling that the discipline of making a record without an electric guitar has concentrated the mind on the job in hand. And as such the pieces, although intricately worked out, seem to allow other, previously unknown ideas and goals to bubble up to the surface. Well worth your time.