Remote Islands – Smother Party

Colin Pate invites his friends round to play organ solos. He doesn’t think like the rest of us.

Colin Pate invites his friends round to play organ solos. He doesn’t think like the rest of us.


Remote Islands are dangerous places. They’re like the woods at the edge of town, the graveyard at the bottom of the street and the old house at the top of the hill. They’re out of bounds to small children. You shouldn’t play in them. Hell, you shouldn’t even venture near them. You know there’s something unsettling, something disturbing, something dark and dangerous lurking around there. People have told you. They said, “Don’t go round there or you might get your brain melted.” You know fine well that if there’s an axe wielding lunatic on the loose he’ll be hiding there as it’s the one place that ordinary people, clever people, intelligent people don’t go. The message is clear. ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK. This album comes with the same type of warning. So, what do we do? Have our common sense glands removed and walk right in. “Hello? Mr Axe Murderer? Are you there?”


Colin Pate, you’ve melted my brain. Seriously. In the space of 43 minutes you have successfully managed to squeegee my eyeballs, shave my tongue, brush my cerebellum with wire wool and have spent ten minutes trying to convince me that my ear drums would work better if I stuck pins in them. Or something like that. What’s more, I’d like you to do it again, please. Immediately.  (Wanders over to the stereo and presses play once more.)


This is bizarre stuff. It sounds like Pavement, Radiohead, Elvis Costello, Lou Reed, The Flaming Lips and Ray Charles. It sounds like Blur before Graham Coxon left. It sounds like Blur after Graham Coxon left. It sounds like early Talking Heads and The Aphex Twin. Hell, it even sounds like They Might Be Giants. Not only that but it sounds like they’re all playing together, at the same time and I’m listening to them whilst my head is submerged underwater.


Let’s start again shall we?


Smother Party is the sound of somebody with too much time on their hands. But at least he’s creating something, the rest of us just sit around scratching our arses and enjoying being bored. We drink beer, play scrabble and watch crappy late night TV movies in the hope of seeing some flesh. Colin Pate invites his friends round to play organ solos. He doesn’t think like the rest of us. He obviously has some kind of attention deficit disorder as this album is all over the place. In fact there are more ideas in one track, Rockaway’s Burns Tonight, than in most albums. It sounds like a mixture of thirty five different songs and one of them is a sea shanty. I love it.


It’s certainly not a relaxing album. It unnerves me. At times it scares the absolute crap out of me but there’s something addictive about it. It reminds me of that last Fantomas album, but without the death metal drum beats. It’s like falling down the lavvy and discovering a whole other world around the u-bend. There may well be a few decent pop songs in here. There may well be a few anthems in there too. Only thing is, they’ve been sliced, diced, spliced, hung, drawn, quartered, suffocated and drowned in layers of electronics, drum machines and wailing keyboards. Experiencing Smother Party is like trying to read a book, hoover the carpet, watch a film and listen to the radio all at the same time. It’s a sensory overload and it will fuck with your head, for definite. It’s the audible equivalent of a great horror film. Even though you’re unnerved and have absolutely no idea where it’s going from one minute to the next (even if you’ve listened to it about twenty times) you’ll love every single second of it.


I suggest you get yourself a copy. If you’re brave enough, that is?


Words: Damian Leslie