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Retarder – Enquiries

[CD, Tourette Records]

Recorded largely during 2007 and 2008, Enquiries is the debut album of Lloyd James of Naevus recording under the name of Retarder. Essentially a collection of experimental pieces, some instrumental and some with vocals, Enquiries is at time challenging but always intriguing and interesting. Opener dancing is basically five and a half minutes of mad piano playing accompanied by some haunting tones apparently played on a trumpet. Ever changing in tone, mood and style, Enquiries keeps you on your toes, never quite sure what the next track might bring. Although starting off calm and melodic, “Turn That Light Off” mutates between gentle guitar strumming and crunching, grinding guitar and slow, chant-like singing. “Tongue in the Wind” is full of dark ambient textures and ghostly atmospherics, “Superman’s Cave” is resplendent with gentle droning tones and retro 80’s style synths while “Farmer Duncan” is a neo-folk song not dissimilar to Current 93 in some respects. From there it is deep into 10 minutes of the deep vibrating tones of “Dead Numbers”, resonant with relentless headache-inducing bass, grinding industrial effects, electrical sparks and highly processed church bells. “Modern Evening” again features James’ vocal talents, this time more like Edward Ka-Spel of the Legendary Pink Dots, and a busy mix of multi-layered guitar sounds, a steady beat and some electronics which combine to produce a dense and powerful apocalyptic sound. Closing the album is “Chalk is Valuable, Keep it in Your Hand”, a track written in 1993 and recorded in 1999 that conjures up images of modern art installations. Featuring the repeated mantra of ‘Chalk’ and ‘Hand’ accompanied by loud bursts of guitar and drums it adds a post-punk guitar tune accompanied by a short spoken monologue from James before fading into its original structure once more by its close. Definitely experimental and not afraid to try out a whole range of ideas, sounds and vocals, Enquiries is a mix of individual pieces from the mind of a man not afraid to experiment, no matter how strange or wonderful the concept may appear.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆



Published by Side-line [August 12th 2009]

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