sancho - cha cha mancha
this is a highly anticipated album for me, and me alone i suspect.
following the limited 7" release that i wrote about all those years ago i heard that a full lengther was on its way. and here it is. paul 'brothers in sound' hanford has crafted this album along with various cohorts (tex la homas matt shaw and russell kemp mainly) and decided to make it sound like nothing else out there. nothing else. yes, there are elements of acoustic electronica, chunks of folktronica, techno, ambience and dub .. all within its short 40 minutes. but the gang have added something extra to the combination. and with a production that makes the songs literally jump out of the speakers this quiet album is still bloody loud and demanding of your attention.
the cover is more of the excellence from nic rawlings who has a way with absurd colours and swirly patterns - thus reflecting the sonic abstractness contained within these off the wall songs.
the album opens with the aforementioned "ball'o'string" which i have heard many many times and still aint bored with, but to hear this in its proper digital glory as opposed to the scratchy grooves makes the clearer sonic detail both a good thing and a bad thing as the sounds sound a lot more clean and crisp. next up is '28 the triangle' incorporating uptempo thin laptop beats and provides an insight into the games that paul plays, as this is anything but a straightforward laptop/electronica album. 'nuts in may' follows which again is known and therefore doesn't need more gushing on as this was the 7" b-side, 'flapping' has been available as a download from the labels website and so i knew this one as well .. but the mellowness is all encompassing, and even the presence of the birdsong doesn't sound overly corny set amongst the orb like ambience and massive dub effects that are applied to the trumpet/guitars.
much of the album is purely instrumental, and when vocals do appear they are very laidback in a beta band type of way. often processed, the one real time is in 'conquer the usurp' which has a melody and flow of wonderful proportions, and just when you are all laid out and falling in love with the sheer gorgeousness comes a freaky distorted beat to drag you out of the slumber, so make the most of the serenity while it lasts. this then drops the listener into a full on sci-fi dubbed up version of ball o'string .. called 'ball o string'. subtle huh. but damn this one shakes the woofers. gently. which leads me to bring your attention to the fact that the guys have really done an excellent sonic job with this album. at times there doesn't feel to be a lot happening but dig into the mix and you will find hidden depths and weirdness. admittedly, this type of track would normally make me slightly miffed as i want more new stuff as opposed to a rehash, but i suspect that this album is meant as a complete whole. not just a selection of tracks. the sci-fi dub is then followed by more down to earth tuneful noodlings. an interlude. very prog. as is the albums longest track 'boscombe'. over 6.5 minutes the sci-fi noises and disjointed synths have little real attraction, which is a shame as this detracts and shouldn't have been a centrepiece of the album then a slow and low beat kicks in after 3 minutes along with a lot of distortion and strangeness. perhaps this album need to be filed as an ambient album, as it holds a lot more connection when dropped in with brian eno's aural experiments. but unfortunately i just want more tunes, and this track doesn't have such a thing. luckily the albums closer 'coach on fire' lets the listener back into the real world with such a comfort blanket, electric piano, far away trumpets and short sharp shards of guitar distortion, a sweet melodious "arrrrr-arrrr" vocal harmony is added to soothe, while synths try and talk to alien craft in alternative universes via the radio frequencies and white noise.
and that, is the album done.
"ladies and gentlemen we have landed. please take off your headphones and return to your day-to-day lives."
a lovely special album.