Graciously bringing out lost treasures of the long grass, Mancunian mavens of gauzy electronica give a new shine to bullions of yore.
This duo have been troubling their listener’s minds for about a dozen years with a heady mix of synthetic sins and natural glory, the original darkwave dreams borne from Kat Day and Nicholas Wood’s imaginations, but lately the two were captured adding a peculiar Manchester touch to THE GRASS ROOTS reveries and JYRKI 69’s nightmares which might give the pair an idea of molding an entire album out of other people’s material. What to cover without ruining THE KVB’s own vibe? Of course, “Nuggets”: choice cuts from the legendary 1972 comp and that record’s many sequels. Only if the classics’ erstwhile common denominator seemed purely conceptual, it’s implemented on a personnel basis now, and while the results are interesting as an experiment, the songs’ distinct sonic identities get lost in the deceptive sameness of a single ensemble’s performances here.
Yet though the Mancunians removed the serrated edge of the most garage gems, they preserved the riff of “Primitive” and reserved a specific aural space for other pieces, which is why there’s variety in approach even to the neighboring tracks, the thematically linked “I’m A Living Sickness” and “Medication”: the former submerging voice into a drum-and-bass morass and the latter diving into a trip-hop pool. Supplying just a little homogeneity to such an approach, the dup blur stylistic boundaries between American and British sides of the Pond, balancing the insistent new-wave twang of almost orchestral opener “I Ain’t No Miracle Worker” by the languorous ambience of “I Can Only Give You Everything” that brings the album to a close, and the guitar-spiked shoegaze that’s shed into “Liar, Liar” by the glacial electricity that feeds “Pictures Of Matchstick Men” as different strains of psychedelia dictate slightly different solutions in terms of sound.
It’s impossible not to get excited by the motorik techno groove of “Circles” or Eurobeat of “Midnight To Six Man” whose deadpan vocals contrast its melody, or not to get transported beyond the veil of sleep by the hypnagogic “Reverberation” whose pulses are mesmeric – but it’s the vibrant raga-scented take on “Night Of The Long Grass” that perfectly grasps the gist of what “Nuggets” were about to begin with to morph this essence into something equally amazing. The more one will spin “Artefacts” the deeper they dig under one’s skin, and there’s a bittersweet aftertaste one will savor.