Album: REVERBAPHON – Here Comes Everyone (Benbecula BEN040CD 2007)

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One trait that has been displayed by a number of the best albums over the last year is the willingness, even determination, to confound expectations. Whether it be PJ Harvey turning to the piano or Murcof turning to the cosmos, musicians seem to be having fun trying things out: the attitude being ‘if it doesn’t work, try something else’. The concept of career progression has been abandoned to the characterless drones of indiedom. The irony, of course, is that they are precisely the kinds of acts that get exalted, then digested and shat out the other end into a life of cabaret reformations and endlessly performing the songs from ‘when we was famous’, or simply retiring to life as an actuary. On the other side of the fence, experimental music making ranging from folk to electronica, noise to neo-classical hasn’t been as bold and healthy in years.

Paul Smith’s Reverbaphon is one such project that isn’t afraid to chuck whatever is to hand into the pot, and see what comes out. Here Comes Everyone is a mish-mash of stylistic ping-pong, often within the same tune. Some of it is demanding, some quite commercial. The mix of live instruments such as guitar, melodica and drums with samplers and effects is not exactly new, but Smith does it with a playful style that is usually rewarding. He has a good grasp of what’s too much, and what’s needed to keep things fresh and engaging. Drums skitter among burbling oscillations, toy keyboard patterns and drawn out guitar drones, or carefully picked acoustic fragments – there sometimes seems to be a scattergun approach to the music, but the melodies are always there. Even “Mbiraphon”, which comes across as Boards of Canada doing free jazz improvisation still has some semblance of a recognisable tune.

The title track is one of the highlights. It starts with a snatch of vocal, before heading into a lengthy guitar improvisation which sounds like Can’s Michael Karoli playing over random microbeats. The album ends with a plain guitar piece, redolent of Rothko. Not everything works – “Ainu Waulking Song”, in particular, is a slightly irritating sketch. On the whole, Here Comes Everyone is a solid and interesting 45 minutes of folktronica. (Release date: 16th November)

Tracks
1. Broad Island
2. Us Mob
3. Sea Minor Grave
4. Sferics
5. Amongst Other Things
6. Lapsed Catalyst
7. Mbiraphon
8. Here Comes Everyone
9. Ainu Waulking Song
10. Space Ship Earth

Website
http://www.benbecula.com/artists/reverbaphon.shtml

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