By Glyn Bailey & The Many Splendid Things
Where to start with this review then... well, with an apology I guess. I've been meaning to write this for around a month now, but have been playing so many gigs and doing so many other bits and pieces myself, that I've not had the time... well, that's the official line anyway, though I'm sure a certain amount of abject laziness is inherent to the delay.
Either way, it's certainly no indictment of the album itself that it's taken me so long, though you definitely have to come at 'The Disturbance' from an oblique angle! It's one of the oddest things I've heard in a long time: it opens with what sounds like a cross between a chanting pirate sea-shanty, a gothic synth tune, some '80s shit-metal (it's a genre to me) and the soundtrack from an action B-movie (I'm thinking "Doom" with The Rock here)...
... but in a good way...
I'm not really sure: do synths, finger-tapping shredded guitar solos, power chords, gang vocals and a heavy stomping bass-line - along with (perversely) an acoustic guitar - all mashed up in the guise of a pirate sea-shanty, go together? All of these abound in 'The Old Illawalla,' so whether they go together or not, that's what you're getting.
The oddity continues with the next few tracks: track two is almost a Hammer Horror theme tune, which I guess fits with the subject matter of a song called 'Beautiful Corpse.' Track three moves away from this horror theme, but sticks with the B-movie soundtrack feel as Roxy Music is crossed with a '50s American robot film trailer and Frank Zappa goofiness - both in the vocal and in the track name: 'Fuktup.'
Track four, 'God for the Day,' is the theme tune from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life as sung by Frank Zappa... but not as funny. I'm not sure if it's meant to be funny at all, but I do know it's utter plagiarism! If I was Eric Idle, I'd have a thing or two to say about it, ha.
Track five has a sort of '60s hippy influenced feel to it, and is seemingly an homage to Mark Bolan - it's called 'The Bolan Tree.' I'm sure, like the rest of the album, it's hugely tongue in cheek, but this rubs off to make sound a bit like one of the set piece songs from The Mighty Boosh. I quite like that though, in an odd way that I'm not totally sure I'm happy about.
To be honest, I could continue to give a track-by-wacky-track review of the album, but I think you get the picture by now. 'The Disturbance' is either meant as an ironic slap-stick joke or as a post-ironic double bluff. It could be that it's a pastiche of various seemingly incompatible styles, intentionally brought together to create a monstrous oddity, and thus is not meant to be taken seriously at all. Or it could be that you're supposed to knowingly understand that such jokes already exist, ignore them, and instead enjoy the album for its honesty and earnestness instead.
Personally, shunning cynicism for a while, I'd like to think it's the latter. I do enjoy this album in a way, for both its oddness and its earnestness. It's like a friendly monster, though more Monsters Inc then Beauty and The Beast.
As such, it's not something I'd readily admit to liking, and yet is something that I still kind of do. It almost feels like my ears have been sexually assaulted, but oddly, that I've rather enjoyed it in a sick kind of way. I think it's the musical equivalent of dressing in your gimp suit, sticking a butt-plug up your arse and getting all sweaty, tied up, with some woman in high heels standing on your balls. It's not the kind of thing that you'd tell your mum about, but by god, it's got its charms.
So I'm probably going to listen to this album again - in a darkened cellar most likely - get all sweaty, and take it like the filthy little bitch that I am.