Thursday, 8 March 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #90 - Belbury Poly, "The Belbury Tales"

Wandering around the dustier corners of the music library, I see this is the fourth album that Belbury Poly have released. I didn't know they'd done so many. I was only aware of them via a connection with Moon Wiring Club, which I may in fact have imagined. But here they are.

I'm reminded of the last Broadcast album with The Focus Group and it's tone of witchery in the woods and public information films and creepy kids. But this is much more crisp and dry. The blurred, myopic shimmer of "Investigate Witch Cults of The Radio Age" created massive waves of paranoid feedback, whereas Belbury is as neat and self-contained as Midsomer Murders. Both are looking outwards and backwards - but from very different emotional spaces.

The tiny opening track, "Belbury Poly Logotone B", is possibly the scariest of the album. It transports me back to the time when the world was far smaller, far more tangible and in the twentieth century. A period and a sensation of experiencing the past that I've been thinking about recently. What cultural value was stored in physical objects in those days - VHS, handwritten diaries, mixtapes?

"My Hands" is steam-powered synths and a spine-befuddling manipulation of some spoken word into a clever song structure, about "something within me to fill the empty space left by God". (Yeah, I remember God being in that weird, physical place I used to knock about in.) "Goat Foot" is a Howard Stapleton funk with Near East attachments, agreeably discordant. Tomorrow's World live from the Hagia Sophia. "Unforgotten Town" also has a TV theme feel, even if it limps along a few feet behind.

"Cantalus" has a cheery waddle about it, making the most of a new live band - and some far from live choral Oooooh. "The Geography" has fused what sounds a Scots folk song with some fake flute and atmospheric noises. I like it. "Chapel Perilous" borders on Primal Scream with a new bass sound, but then doesn't quite go anywhere.

"Summer Round" sits at the end, a hallucinagenic,unblinking toad (in a good way) - until midway through some automotive machine burst in the picture with some sleek sounds. Arpeggiators set to arpeggio! It ends with the sound of a wasp. As all albums should. Albums and picnics.

Rating: Folky Business out of The Drawer

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