Back in December, 2017, we discussed the band, ********, and their track “Kinderpunsch”. That song, a psychedelically-bleached tune that ricocheted around a chamber of urban Christmas imagery was a pretty good sample of what to expect from this full-length album, called The Drink.
To refresh our memory, the band ********, is comprised of Ailie Ormston (who works in a kitchen) and Ω (one half of Edinburgh Leisure – the avant garde band). This latest collaborative effort promises to release The Drink as their first and final album – so, what’s it all about?
Like Edinburgh Leisure, there’s a tactical approach to dealing with the place where art and commerce meet. There’s humor, if not out-right laughs in the Dadaist strategy of assembling material, and the surrounding campaign of a record release.
******** are aware of the urgency of a pop tune, and they’re also aware of the lifespan of an album cycle. Previously released solely, and in its entirety via YouTube video-clips, now the album gets a ‘proper’ release, and you can thank Domino Records for packaging this thing in a more easy-to-carry box.
Musically, this collection trips through discovered noises, broken drum machines, microphones that aren’t plugged in properly, and distorted keyboard melodies that often make hard work of simple phrases. It’s brilliant, purposefully awkward, wantonly disposable fun.
Lyrically we stumble through corridors of dirty mirrors, word associations, and catalogs of the zeitgeist – the kind of things that politicians swot-up on in order to ‘know’ their landscape. “Signs of Life in the Computer” lays automated voices from inside the AI with Allie Ormstom’s heartbreaking harmonies adding something human. When Ω adds his voice to the process he reminds us that none of this is “all that easy, but it’s not all that hard”. Clearly, they’re talking about life, but also art, and everything else in between. The idea they bring in this track, of wearing “running shoes for walking” carries a kind of poetry that we hear at almost every turn on this album.
There are moments of shimmering darkness. “Comedian” explores the angst of making people laugh in a situation when things are frankly, laughable, beyond contempt. “Scottish Water” describes a comparison between London and Edinburgh, but also the relationship between humanity, nature, and the distractions that separate one from the other. It’s actually a bit more than scary. “Water is my novelty” is a disquieting line that sounds like the manifesto of a killer.
Those who know the early work of Stephen Jones’ Babybird project; those lo-fi albums that were recorded with urgency and distributed like drugs from a duffle-bag in boozers – they’ll want to get in on this action. Of course, where Babybird went on to mainstream ‘success’ with shinier reworkings of his most magical tunes, ******** will avoid the ugly beautiful traps of the modern music market, because they’ve already set the fuse to detonate on themselves before any such bullshit can happen.
You’d be forgiven for sensing the spirit of nihilism in this project, but don’t fear. That can’t be the point; real nihilists don’t create such playful mischief… Discordians, on the other hand, love this stuff. There’s darkness, but humor, and the presence of mind to pull out before anything is truly fucked. When the seamier elements of life are addressed, they’re celebrated with a tone of “Really, we take THIS seriously?! (art, music, politics, parenting, religion, financial markets) Isn’t that ridiculous!” and so, of course, it’s ridiculously good.
Releasing an album like a firework – knowing that the nature of such things is to explode, become beautiful, then fall back down to earth – shows the sense of genuine artists who do not attach identities to artifacts. We love it. We Love ********. ******** are dead, long live ********.
For The Drink we award ****** and entire load of ********.
HURRY – PREORDER – THE DRINK
PHOTO BY DANIEL MARKO