Thursday, 17 December 2009

Richard Thomas - Soggy Martyrs

Rather odd and wonderful offering from 1999 on the excellent Leaf Label. Richard Thomas has definitely got a good grasp of the terms 'weird' and 'wrong', but he keeps it pretty low key on this album; unless you turn it up loud, I suppose. This is like Blue Jam sublimated into purely musical form. Over an often fairly down to earth premise - a shuffling drum beat, say, a whole load of queasily played horns lurch around in a monged fashion over lots of processed samples and unsettling noises. The attention to detail is terrific, but the profound weirdness of it all could easily pass you by, as the general sound is often one that approaches a kind of easy listening - trumpets parp, guitars are strummed, drums are drummed; on 'Manicougan 5', for example - but they are played like a band whose members are on different planets, so to speak. It took me a while to get a handle on this album, and then it suddenly all became clear: what an unhinged master Richard Thomas is. Some of it certainly reminds me of Mike & Rich - Expert Knob Twiddlers, but these tracks are far more freeform in structure, and fade in and out of a hazy, muddy ambience. With extra jazz noodling.


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