Sunday, 9 March 2008

neutral sons

People sometimes talk about parallel universes, in my case there is sometime the one between visible and hidden. So when the CD I'd acquired from Neutral Sons morphed into a hidden world for several months, it meant I'd moved from a brief initial hearing to being unable to make more informed comment.

Fortunately, its resurfaced in all its yellowy greenness and spins as I type. Inbetweentimes I'd listened to some tracks on the web-site and also an impromptu live jam somewhere in a bar, via melanie.

Anyway, the album is filled with silky goodness. How to describe? Two primary musicians Richard Knutson and Mark Cottrell have somehow collaborated across the space between UK and USA and provided a mix which is very seamless even with the musicians sending each other takes of their parts of the tracks.

The more conventional tracks have a shimmery floating quality with layers of instruments backed with ambient choruses sometimes of singing, other times of strange and mysterious sounds.

'Drop out' has a quite Zappa-esque feel and there's some subsequent pieces that maybe pay some dues to Captain Beefheart. Further along several species of small furry animals may well have been gathered together in a cave and be grooving with a Pict. I don't mean its all 'Ah feel like Ahcid' stomping, but rather that there is considerable variety with jazzy wah-ed guitars and slices of flange and phase washing across some of the tracks. Parts of the vocal can sound a little Velvet Underground early days although the majority of the record has a bubbly uplifting vibe.

I don't want to attempt to over categorize though, because this is really an album to listen to on its unique creative merits. There's tracks which have been given a chance to breathe like rm 101, which, whilst short, takes a simple riff and provides a sensible chorused progression of the idea.

I may have to sit munching picasso truffles and vanilla beans whilst I listen. There's clear care and attention to the mixing and some rather good wide spacey stereo too, more enveloping and swirly than just nailing the instruments to a position. The ambient pieces made me look around a few times before I realized there were little pingy effects and voices off that have been dripped into the mixing.

So I mentioned parallel universes at the beginning and indeed this album finishes with a dark universe, but along the way has yielded a partisan and committed soundtrack - anything but neutral.

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