Code of Ethics
Cold War Kids
Cold Water Flat
Ned Collette & Wirewalker
Sunburst & Snowblind EP (1983, 14.34) ***½/T½Sugar Hiccup (extended)
From the Flagstones
Because of Whirl-Jack
The Spangle Maker EP (1984, 13.24) ***½/½The Spangle Maker
Treasure (1984, 41.20) ****/T
Aikea-Guinea EP (1985, 14.31) ***½/½Aikea-Guinea
Tiny Dynamine EP (1985, 16.32) ****/TPink Orange Red
Ribbed and Veined
Echoes in a Shallow Bay EP (1985, 16.12) ****/TGreat Spangled Fritillary
Pale Clouded White
Eggs and Their Shells
BBC Sessions (1999, recorded 1982-96, 111.22) ***½/½
|Wax and Wane
Alas Dies Laughing
Blind Dumb Deaf
The Tinderbox (of a Heart)
From the Flagstones
In Our Angelhood
My Hue and Cry
Musette and Drums
From the Flagstones
Musette and Drums
Seekers Who Are Lovers
There's no getting away from it: say what you like, The Cocteau Twins are goth incarnate, Liz Fraser's ethereal vocals the only element of their sound that doesn't conform to the template, unlike the drum machine, the super-effected guitars and Will Heggie's flanged lead bass-work on their early releases. Their first release after Heggie's departure, 1983's Sunburst & Snowblind, presumably features their new third member, Simon Raymonde, who plays the Mellotron choirs on the EP, with swells on Sugar Hiccup and block chords on From The Flagstones, although the choirs on the title track of their follow-up, The Spangle Maker, are so faint, they only become audible in the song's dying seconds.
1984's Treasure, The band's third album, refined their strange, proto-ambient music, complete with Fraser's wordless lyrics that always sound like she's actually singing something, even when you know she isn't. In hindsight, maybe they should've got a real drummer in, as the mid-'80s drum machine sounds horrendously passé now, as does the DX7 'bells' patch on the first couple of tracks, but those aside, the album has an unearthly beauty, defining the '4AD Sound'. Much imitated, never bettered, this is music in which to lose yourself. Most of the keyboard work consists of then-modern synths and a little piano, but the M400 the band owned comes to prominence on album closer Donimo (NOT 'Domino'!), with choirs (not mixed - maybe male voice) and some rather wobbly cellos and regular strings for good measure. It's possible there's some more 'Tron on the album, but if so, it's buried so far in the mix as to be inaudible.
1985 brought no fewer than three relevant EPs, (their entire singles oeuvre has now been collated onto 2005's four-disc Lullabies to Violaine), with the style most definitely remaining the same. Aikea-Guinea's title track has some distant choirs (bit of a repeating feature, this), while Tiny Dynamine (NOT 'Dynamite'!) has some ethereal (of course) Mellotron choirs on Pink Orange Red, but I suspect the 'string' sound on Sultitan Itan is overdubbed sustained guitar, possibly played with an E-Bow. Echoes in a Shallow Bay is more rhythmic than its immediate predecessors, sounding strangely upbeat for such a laid-back band, with more Mellotron choirs (male voice?), more overt this time, on Pale Clouded White.
1999's BBC Sessions does exactly what it says on the tin, collating eight radio appearances onto a two-disc set, mostly dating from 1982-84, with a pair from '96 finishing things off. If you ever wanted to hear the Cocteaus without the production, this is where to come; rough, yet lively versions of the familiar and unfamiliar, not least a short version of Billie Holliday's searing Strange Fruit and the previously-unreleased My Hue And Cry. Mellotronically speaking, we get near-identical background choirs on both versions of From The Flagstones (from October and December '83) that only make themselves fully apparent at the end of the track, although the jury's out on what might just be exceedingly background choirs on My Hue And Cry.
You pretty much know what you're getting with The Cocteaus, don't you? Ethereal, wordless vocals, swirly, heavily-effected guitars, a soupy production, none of which should actually be taken as criticism. All of the above are wonderfully atmospheric records, worthy of anyone's time, although don't expect an awful lot on the Mellotron front. Incidentally, Simon Raymonde has written to me to tell me that he played all the Mellotron parts on an M400 bought for an obscenely low sum the year before I paid about seven times as much for mine. And I still got a bargain.
OK, it isn't actually the Cocteaus, but here's Liz at the 2012 South Bank Meltdown, all these years later, with Thighpaulsandra on Mellotron.
Sounds of Passion (1986, 41.27) **½/TT½Sounds of Passion
4th Movement - 'Finale'
Crazy Fool and Dreamer
Hmmm. Coda were a Dutch outfit from the '80s on the SI label. Now, if that doesn't start ringing warning bells, you're in trouble. To be fair, they were a lot better than many of that label's output, and this doesn't fall 100% into the 'neo-prog' category. Obvious reference points are Genesis/Steve Hackett, Marillion, and the occasional Emersonism from project mainman Erik de Vroomen on the keys. Thankfully, the 29-minute title track is mostly instrumental; the vocals on the last two pieces are appalling - badly-accented English, half-spoken, half-sung. There are far too many digital synths on the album, assuming the band were aiming for a warm, '70s-type sound. Thankfully, some real Hammond, the odd bit of analogue mono and a little Mellotron saves the album from Digital Hell.
So; the music: Very melodic but frequently rather insipid, it has some nice moments, not all of which are the ones containing Mellotron. The spoken intro to the album is completely ludicrous, and rather spoils the first few minutes of the piece proper, as you're still smirking from its idiocy. 'Oh, feelings, feelings... feelings... I can hardly describe it...' I can, but I won't. If you find a copy of this cheap, get it for bits of parts 2-5 of the ineptly-named title track (Je t'aime, anyone?) and the surprisingly powerful Crazy Fool And Dreamer, and ignore the rest.
Soulbait (1996, 40.07) **/½
That Was Then
Me, Myself, & I
Soulbait - Superfly Remix
Code of Ethics apparently started as a more techno-based proposition than we hear on '96's Soulbait, best described a pop/rock with an electronica edge (spot the Star Trek computer sample in the punky Brightside). They're apparently Christians, but les overtly than many, although that could say a lot about how little I listen to lyrics, I suppose. It's all pretty tedious stuff, to be honest, chuntering along to no particular purpose, switching between bright'n'breezy pop (Good Things) and darker material (most of the rest), seemingly designed to appeal solely to mildly disaffected (Christian) Young People, most of whom have probably grown out of it, 13 years on. Well, let's hope, anyway.
Mellotron from Tedd T (no, really) on Echo, with a 'yeah, whatever' cello part that could, frankly, have been played on almost anything that sounds slightly like a cello. All in all, then, a waste of time and plastic, unless you were a certain age in the mid-'90s, in which case this may well still be your favourite album, proof that you need to listen to more music. Oh, and the sleeve's shit, too.
The Sons of Intemperance Offering (1996, 64.44) ***½/0
|House of Lust
Running Halfway Blown
Solana Beach Song
Hats Off (to the Big Queen City)
All the Way My Lover Leads
The Loneliest Girl in the World
|Straight to Hell
A Soft Reply
Scream at the Blackbirds
Phil Cody is the kind of artist that America seems to roll out on a production line: slightly Dylanesque, Americana-toting, heartfelt singer-songwriters whose combination of influences is unique to that country. I believe The Sons of Intemperance Offering (a title bewilderingly described as 'almost unpronounceable' by one website) is his debut, although hard and fast information about the man isn't easy to find, even on his own MySpace page. It's an appealing combination of, well, Dylan and alt.country, often in the same song, with best tracks including Scream At The Blackbirds and the lengthy, jammed-out Simpatico Blvd.
One of the newer breed of tape-replay enthusiast sessioneers, Rami Jaffee, plays Mellotron, although I'll be stuffed if I can work out where. I suppose there could be some flutes hidden away here and there, but you'll need sharper ears than mine (not difficult, frankly) to hear them. Anyway, a good album of its type with one standout track, but no obvious Mellotron. Cody's 2000 release, Big Slow Mover has Jaffee on Chamberlin, but until I get hold of a copy, I've no idea if it's any more audible than on here.
Adam Cohen (1998, 50.38) **/T
|Tell Me Everything
Don't Mean Anything
Beautiful as You
How The Mighty Have Fallen
Down She Goes
I've seen Adam 'son of Leonard' and ex-Mommyhead Cohen's debut, eponymous album described as 'adult contemporary'. Now, if the thought of that makes your blood run cold, you're absolutely right; I'm afraid to say that this is one of the dreariest set of songs it's been my misfortune to hear in a while, no matter who his dad is. Admittedly, there are some decent lyrics hidden away here and there, but the appallingly 'contemporary' production sheen (now, of course, sounding horrendously out of date) is physically painful to listen to, with absolutely none of his dad's OTT melancholy, not to mention sense of humour.
Mellotron on two tracks from Steve Lindsey, with regular strings on opener Tell Me Everything, and phased ones on Cry Ophelia, but we're not exactly talking essential listening here. Sadly, the same can be said for Adam Cohen as a whole; I do hope he's subsequently decided to produce something a little less 'of the moment'; nothing dates as quickly as the present day.
Self-Indulgent Music (1998, 54.01) **½/T½
|Seattle (Danny Cohen)
Oroville (Danny Cohen)
Concrete & Urine (Danny Cohen)
Frat Fucks (Danny Cohen)
Retirement Community (Danny Cohen)
Human Mayonnaise (Mike Boner)
Vacuum Cleaner (Mike Boner)
My Tongue Knows More Than I Do (Mike Boner)
|Figure Skating Dog (Mike Boner)
Don't Be Scared (Mike Boner)
Sweatin' in Your Ass (Horse Cock Kids)
Life After the Blowjob (Horse Cock Kids)
Fuckin' Mississippi (Horse Cock Kids)
Museum of Dannys (1999, 70.44) ***/T½
|Museum of Dannys
Ranting in the Street
Thin White Line
In the Barrio
|I'm Not Me
Dannyland (2004, 48.25) ***/T
|The Devil and Danny Cohen
Realm of Fantasy
Enlightened Despondency (E.D.)
Eye of the Beholder
We're All Gunna Die (2005, 57.54) ***½/½
|As I Looked Down
Among the Cows
Caffeine and Sunlight
Tongue Tied in Quicksand
|Funeral in New Orleans
Ghost Country Safari
World of Holograms
Tanna Leaf Orgies (of the Living Dead)
Coffee is Evil
We're All Gunna Die
Shades of Dorian Gray (2007, 61.39) ***/T½
|Prayer in the Black and White
For George Bailey, LaPado and Bottom
Drawing in the Dark
Cold Snap Conundrum
Palm of My Hand
Confection of Bullshit
Sunday in Richmond
Rigormortis (on the Ridge)
Beneath the Shroud
Danny Cohen, brother of Tom Waits' bassist Greg, is all too often described as an 'outsider' artist, i.e. a loony, which is both insulting and inaccurate. OK, he's a tad eccentric, but when was that ever a problem? Actually, Waits is not only a reference point, but he and his wife, Kathleen Brennan, are mentioned on Dannyland's thanks list as 'Tom and Kathleen'; one online enthusiast reckons Cohen's early, self-produced cassette releases probably influenced Waits, rather than vice versa. Who knows? Cohen's 'career' apparently kicked off as early as 1961 (!), but aside from an alleged handful of other artists' albums around the turn of the '70s, he did little publicly until he began releasing his own material in the late '90s.
1998's Self-Indulgent Music collects three outsider artists together (Cohen, Mike Boner and The Horse Cock Kids), Cohen getting the album's first five tracks. Having heard his later material before this EP's-worth, it's easy, with hindsight, to see the direction in which his career was heading; five fragile, haunted songs, only a hair's-breadth away from Daniel Johnston's impenetrable world, although Cohen seems slightly more rooted in what most of us laughably call 'reality'. Best track? Possibly the quietly terrifying Retirement Community, although all of his contributions are worth hearing for fans. As far as the other two artists involved are concerned, Boner (his real name, surely?) seems genuinely (mildly) deranged, if no Wild Man Fischer, but The Horse Cock Kids are as puerile as their name suggests and not so much 'outsider' as agents provocateur. Cohen plays Mellotron on three of his contributions, with flutes on opener Seattle and strings on Concrete & Urine and Retirement Community, all sounding reasonably real, for what it's worth.
His first solo album 'proper', 1999's Museum of Dannys, is an archival release, although I don't know over what period the tracks were recorded; there's certainly some variation in recording quality across the album's length and different supporting musicians are used. It's actually quite difficult to pigeonhole his material, which has to be a good thing. Low-fi? Weird folk? Acoustic Skip Spence-style psych? Hard to say. On the instrumental front, Cohen adds Mellotron flutes to Quiet Man and strings to Eternal Night, with more uncredited strings on closer Judgement Day, all sounding as real as you'd expect from such an artist.
It took Cohen another five years to release anything else, 2004's Dannyland being his first album of new material. It's almost as odd as its predecessor, to be honest; think: a cross between Waits and Daniel Johnston, and you won't be a million miles off. Mellotron on two tracks, with a wonky string part on opener The Devil And Danny Cohen from Cohen himself, and flutes from Dave Hurst on Still Alive, with its musical Beatles references, and while I don't think the uncredited cello on closer Eye Of The Beholder is 'Tron, nothing that could produce that sound is actually credited at all. So; odd, but not unpleasant.
2005's We're All Gunna Die is, just maybe, slightly more 'normal', whatever you take that to mean. The arrangements are less eccentric and the material's actually better, which means either a) Cohen's work is moving infinitesimally nearer the mainstream, or b) I'm getting more used to it. Magritte is actually pretty good, in a low-fi, slightly bleak kind of way, and while it's all endearingly bonkers, it's in a good kind of way. Just one 'Tron track, with Dave Hurst adding faint strings to Magritte, almost to the point where I'm not sure why they bothered. Given that these albums are all pretty lengthy, I wonder if Cohen's still dipping into a decades-long reservoir of material? Anyway, 2007's Shades of Dorian Gray isn't dissimilar to its predecessor, veering between gloomy but relatively normal material and complete nutsville, albeit quietly. Hurst on 'Tron again, with slightly atonal strings on Noah Blaine and a more upfront (and 'trad') part on closer Beneath The Shroud.
Danny Cohen's music certainly is very odd, though those of you who like something a little left-field may well go for it. None of these are 'Tron classics, but Museum of Dannys and Shades of Dorian Gray are the most worthwhile on that front.
See: Tom Waits
The Future (1992, 59.41) ***½/½The Future
Waiting for the Miracle
Be for Real
Light as the Breeze
Always Has Always Will
You Want it Darker (2016, 36.09) ****/½You Want it Darker
On the Level
Leaving the Table
If I Didn't Have Your Love
It Seemed the Better Way
Steer Your Way
The Future was Leonard Cohen's only new album of the '90s, regarded by many as being over-produced, although the sheer quality of his writing shines through the excess instrumentation. Those of you who've only heard his early material will probably be shocked, but it's far less offensive than the concurrent work of many of his contemporaries and the production should only really intrude for the most die-hard old-school Cohen watcher. His voice is even croakier than the last time you heard it; I mean, the man barely sings, more... intones. His lyrics are as devastatingly spot-on as ever, though; give me this over Dylan any day, thanks. Credited but almost inaudible Mellotron strings from Steve Lindsey on Be For Real, barely making for half a 'T', to be honest. Unless you absolutely insist on nowt but acoustic guitar and voice, I can recommend this to the more open-minded of you, although it does slightly outstay its welcome.
Len's Last Laugh? 2016's You Want it Darker is Cohen's last album, his parts recorded at home, then e-mailed to his musicians. Cohen barely sings throughout the album's length (then again, did he ever?), intoning most of his highly personal lyrics in his usual style. Leonard Cohen really did do the best Leonard Cohen ever, didn't he? Difficult to pinpoint 'best tracks'; the album works best as a whole, although its bookends (the title track and String Reprise/Treaty) are possible the greatest moments on this posthumous release. The album's last line? "I wish there was a treaty/between your love and mine". Back to the prosaic Land Of Mellotron, Zac Rae plays it on two tracks, although the evidence that he's gone over to the dark(er) side (samples, duh) is growing hourly. Anyway, we get background strings on Leaving The Table and near-inaudible flutes on Traveling Light, but, if even if they're real, they're an irrelevance in the context of a great artist's final work.
Join the Parade (2007, 47.04) ***½/TT½
|Listening to Levon
The Calling (Ghost of Charlie Christian)
Dance Back From the Grave
If I Were an Angel
Let Me Be Your Witness
Live Out the String
Giving Up the Ghost
|Join the Parade
Life Goes on
Imagine if Tom Waits sang 'normally', wasn't quite so obsessed with sounding like a 1920s steam band and resided slightly nearer the mainstream and you might be getting somewhere vaguely close to Marc Cohn. He's been around for a while, making his first album in his early thirties and his fourth, 2007's Join the Parade, some sixteen years later. It's a pretty downbeat kind of album, but in a good way, channelling that Waits vibe through music that doesn't require the listener to be in an advanced state of inebriation/illness/death, which should (theoretically) make him more popular, although I don't think it has.
Mellotron from David Barrett and Chamberlin from Patrick Warren, with what sounds like Mellotron cellos on If I Were An Angel, cellos and Chamby strings on The Calling (Ghost Of Charlie Christian) and Giving Up The Ghost, 'Tron flutes and Chamby strings on closer Life Goes On and more strings on My Sanctuary. I may've missed something, but it's fairly hard to tell... Overall, then, one for Waits fans looking for a bit of normality, or tape-replay obsessives looking for a late-nite drinking den fix.
Astral Disaster (1999, 72.19) ***/TThe Avatars
The Mothership & the Fatherland
2nd Sun Syndrome
The Sea Priestess
I Don't Want to Be the One
Coil began as a Psychic TV offshoot in the early '80s, going on to influence various 'industrial' groups (most of whom weren't actually especially industrial) and becoming acid house innovators before shifting into a kind of neo-folk/drone crossover area. Astral Disaster was their seventh album, originally released as a limited-edition LP, later remixed and expanded into the CD version reviewed here. The album splits neatly into a three short/three long format, with both The Mothership & the Fatherland and MU-UR topping twenty minutes, the latter being the record's major drone-fest and probably one of its more listenable tracks for the uninitiated.
Spiritualized member and sometime Julian Cope collaborator Thighpaulsandra plays Hammond, Mellotron and synths on the album, with some particularly nice organ work in places. Two presumed 'Tron tracks, with some string notes on The Sea Priestess, although the choirs throughout the piece are either real or sampled, while the cellos on I Don't Want To Be The One are more likely to be Mellotron than real.
Tragically, co-founder John Balance died in 2004, effectively ending the band, although the other founding member, 'Sleazy' Peter Christopherson, continues to release various recordings made during Balance's lifetime. Astral Disaster is a pretty strange album, to be honest, although Coil fans probably find it a bit safe and mainstream. If you don't have a problem with lengthy drones, you may well go for this, but it isn't for everyone. Not that much 'Tron either, so not really worth it on that account.
Loyalty to Loyalty (2008, 45.30) **½/½
Every Valley is Not a Lake
Something is Not Right With Me
Welcome to the Occupation
Golden Gate Jumpers
Avalanche in B
I've Seen Enough
|Every Man I Fall for
Dreams Old Men Dream
On the Night My Love Broke Through
The Cold War Kids' rise to (relative) fame is very much a story of the modern world; they apparently caught the attention of the blogging community, picking up a worldwide audience via the 'Net, although how that translates into actual record sales is unknown. Their second album, 2008's Loyalty to Loyalty, is titled after an anti-Nietzschean concept, which is a) admirable and b) probably far too brainy for many of their fans. It's difficult to know how to describe its contents: late-nite indie? Sparse jazz? Mostly, it consists of piano-driven dirges and erratic percussion overlaid with Nathan Willett's mournful wailing; Willett badly wants to be Television's Tom Verlaine, which is only acceptable if you actually are Tom Verlaine. Sorry, pal.
Zac Rae plays Chamberlin, with background strings on I've Seen Enough, in a 'why did they bother?' kind of way. Fans of downbeat indie may go for this, but I can't imagine anyone else holding its overwroughtness to their collective hearts. Good at what it does (he said, grudgingly), but next to no Chamberlin, so, y'know, don't bother.
Cold Water Flat (1995, 42.12) **/½
King of the Underground
Magnetic North Pole
|All I Had
Hold My Head
Cold Water Flat, fronted by the better-known Buffalo Tom's Bill Janovitz' brother Paul (got that?), were a typical East Coast 'alternative' band of the early '90s, who were picked up (as they say) by MCA for their 1995 eponymous second (and last) album. It's... It's an entirely average 'alt.' record, 'featuring' lots of quiet/loud, sounding like it could only aspire to be the runt of the grunge litter; sorry if that sounds harsh, but I generally say it as I see it and I see it like that. Best track? Well, closer Hold My Head, despite its excess length, is possibly the least bad, but that's about the best I can do.
Someone calling himself Rabbi Suede, most likely producer Sean Slade (Dinosaur Jr, Sebadoh) plays Mellotron, with distant strings on the first two tracks, Virus Road and King Of The Underground, giving the (almost certainly false) impression that the band tired of it quickly, unless they recorded the album in its running order. Unlikely. I'm afraid to say that, to the non-fan, Cold Water Flat is the dullest of dull genre albums, entirely indistinguishable from a thousand similar, or so it feels, so with so little Mellotronic involvement, this has to be a big, fat 'no'.
Parachutes (2000, 41.50) **½/½
|We Never Change
Everything's Not Lost
A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002, 54.12) **½/T
In My Place
God Put a Smile Upon Your Face
A Rush of Blood to the Head
I've seen Coldplay described as 'Radiohead-lite', although the comparison could be seen as insulting; it's not that Coldplay are actively offensive, just terribly, terribly bland, a criticism I hope you'd have trouble levelling at Radiohead. Parachutes rarely picks up speed at all, being mainly a collection of dull, mid-paced ballads with a faint 'indie' feel about them, dragged down further by Chris Martin's soporific, borderline-tuneless voice. There's nothing wrong with slow material - Low are marvellous, for example, but to my ears this album all sounds much of a muchness. There's Mellotron on one track, although I've no idea who plays it (Martin?); Yellow has cellos, flutes and strings dotted about, though more as background colouring than anything else. Definitely not worth it on those grounds.
2002's A Rush of Blood to the Head manages to up the BPM rate a little, material like God Put A Smile Upon Your Face and irritating hit Clocks (you'll know it when you hear it - I did) being a step or two up from 'slothful', while A Whisper is positively lively. Best track? I still retain a vestigial fondness for major hit In My Place; I kept hearing it on the radio that year and it was the first mainstream pop I'd heard in a long time that actually grabbed my attention, even if it is a bit wet. Funnily enough, it's also the album's 'chief' Mellotron track, such as it is, with background cellos on the verses, although if you didn't know, you wouldn't, er, know. I'll stick my neck out and say that's cellos we're hearing on Warning Sign, too. Proof? An ancient Angelfire website quotes drummer Will Champion as saying, "...and 'In My Place' is based around a mellotron, the instrument used on 'Strawberry Fields Forever.' But instead of the flute setting, we use the cello setting." So there you go. In those days before hardware Mellotron emulators, chances are that a band saying 'we used a Mellotron' actually meant 'we used a Mellotron'. I wouldn't take that as any kind of recommendation for the album as a whole, however.
I Don't Know Why I Act This Way (1995, 41.37) **½/TT
|Speed of Life
Believe in You
Move if You're Goin'
Sheila Don't Remember
Take the Reins
|Hole at the Top of the World
Heaven's Last Attempt
Falling Home (2000, 46.32) **½/T
|My Friend Stan (Intro)
I Won't Bleed
Leave Me Alone
Any Dark Day
More Than a Breakup Song
|Raining on the Moon
You Make it Easy
Peaceful in Mine
Although his first band were Brits The Records (one eponymous album, 1980), it seems Jude Cole's American, moving back to his homeland in the '80s, beginning his sporadic solo career with 1987's Jude Cole. 1995's I Don't Know Why I Act This Way is his fourth such, consisting of singer-songwriterly material, unfortunately tainted with a mainstream '90s production (infinitely preferable to a mainstream '80s one, mind), better tracks including Lowlife and Joe. Jon Brion plays Chamberlin (well, it makes a change from Patrick Warren), with flutes on opener Speed Of Life, unidentified woodwind on Move If You're Goin', flutes and cello (despite a real one being used elsewhere) on Lowlife and what sounds like brass mixed in with other instruments on Madison.
Cole's follow-up (and last album to date), 2000's Falling Home, was released independently, a not dissimilar record to its predecessor, its best track probably being the energetic Inhale. Aaron Embry is credited with 'Chamberlin orchestra', a multi-overdubbed concoction of pre-war woodwinds on swing era-style ballad You Make It Easy, sounding real enough to fool the ear. Overall, then, really not that interesting, although some of Cole's lyrics bear repetition. Decent levels of tape-replay use on I Don't Know Why..., though less so on Falling Home, which is nice, but really not enough to make these worth a purchase, I fear.
Networking in Purgatory (2014, 40.10) **½/T
|At the Piano
Networking in Purgatory
Across the Frozen Bridge
A Lawyer or a Gimmick
2014's Networking in Purgatory is Ned Collette's fifth album, the third under the Wirewalker banner, possibly best described as a kind of indie folk-rock, I suppose. Is it at all interesting? Not really, no; its mix of bland vocal melodies, insipid rhythms and electronica-lite instrumentation, combined with a lack of memorable material, scupper its chances of being something I'll ever play again. Not, I'd imagine, that Collette's that bothered on e way or the other.
Collette plays a slightly sharp, quite real-sounding Mellotron flute line on Across The Frozen Bridge, its tuning issues during the two-note intervals section, underlain with background strings, helping its case no end. Shame it's found on such a dull record, really.
Pretty & Unsafe (2007, 33.01) ***/½
He's Tellin' Me All
A Motel Song
That's Peter Window
Pretty and Unsafe
Marta Collica isn't signed to 4AD, but you feel she should be; her work with John Parish (Eels/P.J. Harvey) partly explains her sound. Her debut album, 2007's Pretty & Unsafe, is a haunted, folk-inspired singer-songwriter effort, several tracks consisting of no more than Collica's voice and piano and/or Parish's guitar; trying to pick out 'best tracks' is slightly futile, as they're pretty much all on a level.
Hugo Race and Parish are both credited with Mellotron, with Race adding a string part to He's Tellin' Me All that doesn't actually sound particularly Mellotronic, while Parish is credited on the seemingly Mellotron-free F.R.I.E.N.D.S., although there's no mention of the strings on the title track. Is any of the Mellotron real? I have considerable doubts, but given that it's not 'obviously' sampled, I'll have to leave this here until/if etc. As far the album itself's concerned, 4AD/P.J. Harvey fans might well be interested, though Mellotron spotters should probably go elsewhere.
Hellbent on Compromise (1990, 51.06) ***/½
|Means to an End
You Poor Deluded Fool
It Might as Well Be You
Take Care of Yourself
Someone Else Besides
My Girl Has Gone
Now That it's Love
|Everything and More
What's the Big Idea
Time of the Preacher/Long Time Gone
I'm Not Following You (1997, 55.10) ***/½
|It's a Steal
The Magic Piper
No One Waved Goodbye
Who is it?
Running Away With Myself
|For the Rest of My Life
I'm Not Following You
Ex-leader of Orange Juice, Edwyn Collins' second solo album, 1990's Hellbent on Compromise, is apparently viewed as a poor relation in comparison to its rated predecessor, the previous year's Hope and Despair and its successor, '94's Gorgeous George, home to major hit A Girl Like You. In truth, the album's not bad, but the songwriting isn't outstanding and the arrangements seem a bit studio-heavy. Best track? For some reason, Someone Else Besides strikes a chord with me, as it's barely distinguishable from the rest of the album, although nothing here actually offends. Collins plays Mellotron himself, in an unusually early 'second wind' setting, after its '80s pariah status, with something on Take Care Of Yourself; my guess is the otherwise uncredited vibes, but it's hard to tell.
'97's I'm Not Following You is another album for Edwyn's fans and why not? The material skips between styles with his usual aplomb, making him as difficult to categorise as ever, better tracks including Seventies Night and the driving Adidas World, replete with ripping monosynth part. Collins plays Mellotron again, with a brief 'noodly' horn part (credited as such) on No One Waved Goodbye, which, to be honest, would've passed me by had I not known.
So; a pair of inbetweenies, really, neither one thing nor the other, with next to no 'Tron on either. Buy Gorgeous George instead. Incidentally, best wishes to Collins on his long-term stroke recovery.