Wednesday, 27 July 2011

reviews: adam stafford, the last battle, moonface

Adam Stafford - Build a Harbour Immediately

Adam Stafford - Build a Harbour Immediately (****)

Build a Harbour Immediately
is filmmaker, music video director, ever-inventive musician, and regular Renaissance man Adam Stafford’s first studio release under his own name. The qualifiers are necessary – between Y’All is Fantasy Island and various other projects, he’s amassed quite the discography. This surely ranks high amongst them, with tracks frequently setting off in one direction, before Stafford whips around to challenge assumptions.

Take Shot-down You Summer Wannabes: what begins a kind of esoteric loop experiment sheds its layers to reveal a shiny pop core. A similar trick is pulled on Frederick Wiseman, an uncluttered, melting R&B whisper which sets up the closing ambient drift of A Vast Crystal Skull. Elsewhere the font is more familiar but no less successfully channelled: Fire & Theft opens the album with Kinks-y swing, while Cathedrals is a barely-there gossamer ballad. All in all, great enough to de-glum those disappointed by YiFi’s disbandment earlier this year.

Out 22nd August

The Last Battle - The Springwell EP

The Last Battle - The Springwell EP (****)

The Last Battle’s latest EP offers an accidental word of warning for rollover Euromillions winners Chris and Colin Weir. “Spend, spend, spend… everything was all downhill from then” croons Scott Longmuir, with Flora McKay’s evocative cello supplementing the pathos.

The track in question is Viv Nicholson, a gorgeously simple ode to the housewife who won a bundle on the pools and lost the lot, and it makes for a splendid centrepiece. But there’s better in store in the form of The Last Dance, which nails a low-key anthem sound with the slenderest echo of Band Aid in its melody and a curious blend of lo and hi fi production, before seguing into miniature coda Lost, But Not Forever.

Out Now

Moonface - Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I'd Hoped

Moonface - Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I'd Hoped (****)

Moonface is a non-de-plume of Wolf Parade’s Spencer Krug, adding another entry to a catalogue of acts long enough to fill this review’s word-count. While the tremulous vocals make it recognisably Krugian (the guy surely deserves his own adjective by now), it occupies an idiosyncratic place in his networked discographies.

Its five tracks (only one of which stops short of seven minutes) are played solo on (surprise) an organ, with the aid of loops and a digital drums, and what apparently started out as “lush and noisy” drone experiments has instead produced an off-kilter pop album unmoored to any specific period or genre.

Fast Peter carries a resemblance to OMD, Shit-Hawk In The Snow’s latter half invokes Ray Manzarek’s prog-years, while the whole’s simplified methodology bears comparison to aspects of Casiotone For the Painfully Alone. Even at thirty-seven minutes, the circumscribed aesthetic eventually exhausts, but Organ Music… is nonetheless an engrossing curveball.

Out 1st August

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