IIISIO RECORD REVIEWS
I Brian: Understand (8mm) One for all you starry-eyed dreamers out there. Understand is as soft as they come, billowing and wafting from the unrequited eight-track of Dublin‘s Brian - who‘s actually a man called Ken. Just so we can understand Understand . assume that it‘s a seasonally-adjusted record; recorded in December but really for spring. Hence the tales of budding affection and sprouting passions, of ’Big Green Eyes‘ and how ’You Don’t Want A Boyfriend’ as sensitive and caring as our protagonist. Accordingly the strummed guitars sit cross-legged, country, folky, achey. lf the sap‘s rising in your loins or you're just a sap, Understand offers mind-relief. (Craig McLean)
I Art Ensemble Of Chicago: Dreaming Of The Masters Suite (DIW) The Art Ensemble‘s tribute to John Coltrane is the ABC‘s strongest recording in some time. Their interpretations of Trane‘s ‘lmpressions‘, ‘Naima‘ and ’Spiritual‘ are in the spirit ofthc originals, but imbued with their own distinctive sound. A second volume, dedicated to Monk, is imminent. Julius Hemphill came out of the same l9605frec-jazz ferment as the Chicagoans, but has moved in a different direction. For Man And The Hard Blues is the ﬁrst recording from his all-saxophone Sextet, which proves to be an inventive and sonorous ensemble, although one better sampled a cut or two at a time. lt lacks some of the bite of earlier Hemphill projects, too. (Kenny Mathieson) I Haydn: The Seven Last Words Of Christ On The Cross (T eldec) Haydn wrote this for orchestra in response to a Holy Week commission from Cadiz, later made a string quartet of it, and finally this version for orchestra, choir and soloists. Nicholas Hamoncourt directs his forces with admirable control, but the unrelenting sequence of adagio movements grows a little wearisome. Sigiswald Kuijken and La Petite Bande are on more familiar territory in their crisply-performed disc of his Symphonies 88, 89 and 92 (Virgin Classics) of 1788—89. while the Takacs Quartet give powerful readings of Mozart’s String Quintets K515 and K516 (Decca) from the same period. (Kenny Mathieson)
‘Honsuch’ kicks off with one of the best rhythm guitar intros In ages, winds up nineteen tracks later with four musing solos, and in between packs eno'ugh highpoints to justify the packaging’s Renaissance flavour.
‘l’ll sing about you if nobody else will,’ Andy Partridge says in ‘Humble Daisy’, in the tone of a man who will not only respect you in the morning, he’ll lmmortallse you in an intelligent song written from an unexpected angle. Echoes oi Beatles and Costello reverberale around ‘Nonsuch’, but
‘Dmnlbus’ to the semi-psychedelic ‘Thal Wave’ and the heartfelt ‘Dooks Are Dumlng’.
The less prolific Colin Moulding distinguishes himself on three of his four songs, only faltering when he fails to pull ‘War Dance’ out oi the aglt-pop territory cleverly avoided in ‘Smartest Monkeys’ (and only lost side-stepped by Parlridge’s “Books Are Burning’). ‘Monkeys’ is one oi the album’s most memorable tracks, treating the subject oi homelessness with a tricky blend oi anger and sardonic humour.
Throughout, the band’s playing is tight, imaginative and sparing. if this is what abstaining from live work can do for a band, there’s a few dozen more i would recommend take sabbaticals.
Partridge is his own man and slips with (Alastair Mabbott) ease from the salacious bounce oi _ Reptile House’ EP, here repeated in its entirety, is the epitome of such SISTERS 0F MERCY grandiose grandfloquence. Dut ‘Temple Of Love’ is the high at; cm: wand" 8" "make (em watermark. Immense and overblown in
. Virus 100 (Altematlve Tentacles)
it had to happen sometime -the rehabilitation of Dead Kennedys, that is - and The Disposable Homes Df Hiphoprisy’s rap update of ‘California
: Uber Alles’ made the perfect
scene-setter for this album, fifteen Dead Kennedys’ songs reinterpreted by artists ranging from the aforementioned Disposable Heroes to Napalm Death, L7 and even Moio Hixon. That LA was burning the week of its release is one of those examples oi synchronicity that means nothing to anyone and possibly everything to Dead Kennedys’ mainman Jello Biaira.
Predictably, most of the participants blast their way through the tracks, which sounds fine and meaty, but in most cases renders the lyrics unintelligible— ironic, considering Biafra, always American punk’s most articulate irritant, went on to ‘blow minds for a living’ as a public speaker. The bands who use their imaginations come across best: Homeansno recreate ‘Forward To Death’ a capella; Kramer plays ‘lnsight’ as a spooky synth number, and, best of all, Sister Double Happiness slow ‘Holiday In Cambodia’ right down to insert some epic pained warbling. And you thrash-funk fans: this is possibly the only chance you’ll get to hear Faith No More using standup bass, accordion and stroking their drums with brushes. (Alastair Mabbott)
As if we needed reminding, beiore Eldritch was Metal, Eldrilch was Goth, and ‘Some Girls Wander 8y Mistake’ is the digital document of the fabled, unholy terror that was the Sisters Of Mercy in their early 80s incarnation. Goth, oi course, is the cult that refuses to die, and such is the rigid regimentatton of these, Gothdom’s national anthems, that it seems even more anachronistic now.
Which is as it should be, since this
stuft’s dated melodrama is its potency.
Eldrilch truly has bats in his beiiry, a corpse’s chill to his voice, a funereal hyperbole throughout his music. ‘The
its extended version, it is the Sisters breaking out of the darkened bedroom of gloom and crap incense sticks. The anvil punch of Doktor Avalanche, their driving drum machine, is here at its most stentorian. And when, with their uncompromising bleakness, the Sisters threaten to dig their own grave (which is probably fine by them, ha ha ha), respite comes, paradoxically, in the shape of a chilling version of ‘Gimme Shelter’ and a crunchy version of The Stooges ‘1969’.
How much more black could this be? Hone. HDHE more black. (Craig McLean)
38 The List 8— 21 May 1992