Brown Dwarf 2018
Divine drama from Mancunian ensemble who like their heresy harmlessly supreme.
After more than a decade of trial and error and occasional breakup, singing guitarist Dean Anthony Sobers and bassist Matthew Alexander Kaufman finally get their band together again – tight enough to come up with this album and prove the world, as they state, that nothing is surmountable. Sic! they seem to be missing an “in” – only they’re not. It’s not pessimism in the group talking; it’s the fact that one has to be “in” to observe what’s up around us, and overcoming obstacles can be a distraction. Cue the story behind the record: the Tower of Babel as scaled in the ’80s and imagined today.
Quite an interesting concept, and it runs from muscular particularity which would drive “The Tower Of Babel” toward choral idiosyncrasy, to commonality which is making “A Tower Of Babel” so soulfully romantic – but if the hammer-like beats and exciting four-string buzz behind “Downstream To The Pororoca” build this many-layered pyramid, where multitude of meanings are interlaced, “Remember The Teletubbies” has turned out transparently nostalgic. “The edges of my vision should be still – drifting with dreams; not crawling with cockroaches”: that’s wishful thinking in the often-hilarious context infused with kitchen-sink poetry and (if priapic punch of “Lone Giant” is anything to go by) sarcastic satire.
So the pun-laden “Shelter In The Dark” may be all sinister whispers and aching funk, while the anxious chug and well-ordered clamor of “Railway Manias” carry exclamatory spoken word in the Bedlam direction. Once there, the frenzied plethora of voices in “Jack” will evoke the spirits of Zappa and Byrne, with “Discipline”-era Crimso thrown in for circular picking and rifferama – yet whether the “Jack in question could be Daniels, Torrance or simply a plug is open to interpretation. Perhaps, the artists themselves know the answer, as they’ve been playing most of these pieces for more than ten years now, but the duo won’t tell the truth, no doubt about it.
On a purely musical front, the licks of “All My Glass” tickle taste-buds of the cheap pop aficionados who come dewy-eyed for that 8-bit-bitten period sound – although strum and vocal harmonies threaten to become celestial here, with reggae-esque tinkle of “Before The Demonstration” even drier in sonic terns. Still, the solemn, almost hymnal promise taking “We Will Go Up” to the ultimately spacious, electronica-stricken elation must provide the basis for a new tower, or raise a giant penis to the sky to try and screw the Almighty again. If anyone’s able to get back to Babel, it’s LOPD who finally bark up the right tree: it was worth the return.