Review: Living in a bottle
Wednesday 06 May 1998
Flapper and Firkin, Birmingham
Kicking in with a fashionable Bontempi sound, "Country Piano" introduces us to the relatively new wares of Electric Sound Of Joy. There's the usual Krautrock resonance; the waltzy feel is steeped in the aura of an avant- garde tea dance ("Stress Kills"), but other moments such as the shimmering slivers of guitar recall the traits of "Porcupine" era Bunnymen, and "Don't Waste My Time" brings to mind a kind of leftfield Roxy Music. On the whole, these are dark, broody instrumentals with a distinctive hook; spiritually morose, yet full of zeal and strangely uplifting. There's quite a bidding war under way to recruit the services of this prodigious combo, who look set to create the same sort of cultish ripple that bands like Stereolab have prospered from. Electric Sound Of Joy also dabble briefly in other flavours; there's an undercurrent of funky Parliament-esque grooves on "I Can't Wait", and a hint of a glam rock-out at various other points during the set. Their confidence is astounding, as is the quality of their brief repertoire. It's only a matter of time before they're snapped up, and once they've had time to experiment in the studio we'll really be able to see their true worth. A representation of musical genius beckons...
Aidan Moffat, singer with Falkirk's perennial soaks and lo-fi exponents Arab Strap (pictured above), looks podgier than the last time I saw him. Facially, he bears the curious hybrid features of James Garner and Eric Cantona, with a ravaged complexion that's surely a testament to alcohol; it's the perfect foil for the Strap's slo-mo, bluesy narrative. His perfunctory voice is somewhat difficult to distinguish above the conversational noise of the crowd, (who are packed into every crevice of this sardine cellar) but Moffat's sprawling streams of consciousness and rambling monologues - although at times incomprehensible - still manage to convey a feeling of bare realism, a fidelity of suburban representation interspersed with austere beauty. You get the feeling that he's become accustomed to being talked over. Generally, it's kind of Nick Cave meets rustic Joy Division, imbued with the anecdotal soul of Tom Waits and bundled together in a hastily sealed louche package; subliminally bleak and suitably gritty. The minimalist instrumentation allows Moffat's sub-stoned discourse to become the focus, whether it be the gentle vibrato of the organ or the rotational piano and guitar loops; there's the occasional frenzied distraction as the musical narrative is punctuated with fleshy slabs of guitar fuzz, heavily laden with cauterised white noise. Much of the evocative lyrical portraiture is lost to the rafters, but a scent remains. Moffat wanders off to make a headstart on the beers and spirits, leaving guitarist and cohort Malcolm Middleton to finish up the throes of "Deeper", a sonic epic packed with reverb. This runt-of-the-litter Tindersticks have left their mark, woefully bereft of a single violin. Wonderful.
Life & Style blogs
GTA 5 Online DLC: San Andreas Flight School update brings 16-seater jet plane and more
What is ALS and the Ice Bucket Challenge?
Anal sex study reveals climate of 'coercion'
Common antibiotic linked to increased risk of heart disease
Karl Lagerfeld shoots Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst in suspenders for fashion shoot
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Scottish Independence Referendum: Salmond described as 'arrogant, ambitious and dishonest' by Scottish women
- 1 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 2 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 3 James Foley beheading: Fox news presenter Megyn Kelly annoyed by Ferguson update during broadcast about murdered journalist
- 4 Kajieme Powell: Missouri police release video footage of second man killed by officers
- 5 Paul Scholes: Manchester United need five experienced players who can turn round a desperate situation
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...
£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...
£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...