reviews july 2004

The Fabulous Nobody, A Pot of Tea / The Sparticus Stargazer, Old Hank Schultz / Jeff Leopard, Tastebud (all Sparticus Stargazer) and Yellowhammer, Leave You Standing (Amphibious) all 7"

All dressed up in best label bib and tucker of shiny colour sleeves based on a collage of Russian sweet wrappers there's more than a hint that Sparticus Stargazer have taken a seven-league leap up the steep hill of professionalism. The formation release of these three 7s is a step forward in other directions too. All the previous action on the label has been helmed by DJ Ordeal with his beautiful hand-made covers and orchestrated 4-(sound)track otherworldly glory and, although he still crops up here backing The Sparticus Stargazer, there's a delicious variation on display this time around.

The Fabulous Nobody muses on the reasons why a cuppa is the best medicine for the symptoms of life while gently strumming his guitar and accompanying himself on whistling. If you could imagine a black and white film featuring classy women in tailored jackets, skirts below the knees, box hats and stockings with perfectly-aligned seams, and then imagine the soundtrack featuring a song about a brew, you'd be right there.

The Sparticus Stargazer sounds like someone's nan. She's reading Peggy Lee and Captain Beefheart lyrics (Old Hank Schultz and One Nest Rolls After Another) like she's telling the next woman at the bus stop about her grandson's appearance at sports day, or the woman she was talking to on the bus to town last Thursday who'd been to the new hairdressers round the corner. Talk about pricey! DJ Ordeal provides the Eraserhead snatches of dissonance and tune that punctuate the pauses and fade when the words need it. Only one complaint: it's much too short.

"Jeff Leopard appears courtesy of Dripping Pussy Records" it says here. Hmm. Fluids aside, he seems to know what's what, stitching up a deft weave of tinny breaks and laid-back reggae on the A side and tinny breaks and sampled Bollywood airs on the B.

Yellowhammer has no (known) links to the Stargazer empire but seems to have the same knack as Ordeal for reorchestration of other people's orchestras. Here it's Les Baxter's Bird of Paradise that's sampled, swirled and twirled into a mini epic of should-be tea-dance soundtrack.

Sparticus Stargazer: Yellowhammer:

The Large Slow-Maturing Pigs of Yorkshire, The Large Slow-Maturing Pigs of Yorkshire / The Duds, The Myriad Contortions of Yolande Mahwengwe / Desmond Pot and the Des-Pots, Statutory Sector (all Eeriephone) all 7"

By strange coincidence, Eeriephone are also stepping up to the plate with three new releases in synchronised label jackets. This time it's not Russian sweets, but Medieval wood-cuttings that provide the inspiration with demons, angels, dragons, death, birth and torture all featuring heavily. On the back it's just a dog with three legs (see the Duds interview for the full story.)

The Duds are already favourites round this way and the title cut from their new single appeared on the CD with Robots #10. This version sounds re-recorded but it's lost none of its strange appeal. A story about a yoga teacher with a ridiculous name is hardly standard material for a pop song and the title is hardly a good starting place for a chorus of any kind. The Duds are not phased by self-imposed manacles of this nature and turn out a simultaneously up- and down-beat track from which melodies burst like brambles from a plastic bag. A curious pinging quality permeates the whole thing and then the kazoo adds the icing. Even if you've pledged never to buy another record in your life to make sure your newborn child never goes short of food, give them the insides of the hoover bag one morning (tell them it's muesli) and get this single.

The Large Slow-Maturing Pigs of Yorkshire sees some or all of the Duds personnel, under false names, delivering a monotone eulogy on their animal namesakes while a dropsy almost-disco beat is enhanced by a leisurely acid line and some out-of-place aah and wooh. Sounds like a recipe for disaster. Is in fact a triumphant success. Desmond Pots is almost certainly another pseudonymous Duds-u-like, this time dropping a reggae groove under the deadpan delivery on Statutory Sector and never quite making it stick. The B-side offers more hope with its funereal pace and dark, claustrophobic industrial atmosphere.

Love Is All, Make Out. Fall Out. Make Up (Whats Your Rupture) 7"

They're Swedish (Gothenburg), the label is American (NYC), the record was produced by Woodie Taylor (Comet Gain) and the sleeve is hand-screened (pink and silver.) The pick of the songs is Spinning and Scratching and its sound is somewhere between 60's girl group, spaghetti western and white noise fuzz.

Art Brut, Brutlegs CDR

"We formed a band, we formed a band. Look at us, we formed a band!" One of Art Brut shouts excitedly as the others grind out angular chords and no doubt throw angular shapes in the background. The delivery is Blue Aeroplanes ("we're just talking to the kids") and the rest is part Wire and part deluded, inspirational optimism ("I wanna be the boy, the man, who writes the song that makes Israel and Palestine get along.")

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