Another album from Leeds based performance poet and multi-instrumentalist Tom Priestley, and his partner in art Martin Trippett. Always sometimes to look forward to both lyrically and musically.
The album opens with the dark ranting of ‘Sick!’; I want to emphasise that I’m not using the word ranting as a criticism. I rather love ranty songs.It takes a sparse abrasive sound; a sound I’m going to describe as early Fall like. The key here is that It’s your basic guitar and drums deployed with a sense of frustration and no little aggression to match the words. The words, delivered with Tom’s usual completely unmistakably Leeds’ thing, speak of a variety of ways you can be sick or sick of things; sick of feeling ill, sick of being hopeless, sick of the eternal time that, I assume, passes by with no variation. And while the words might speak of frustration. A dose of anger; the way Tom puts those words together has that wry dry as fuck humour I’ve come to expect.
Up next is the equally abrasive ‘Elastic Radical’ which takes as its core the story of a football match. This unless I have misinterpreted it. It sounds strangely like Glam Rock, a mutant Rock ‘n’ Roll with aggressive guitar and a tingling piano; guaranteed to raise a smile, it just tickled me. The words spill out like a torrent, just the sound of them is compelling. But do listen properly.
Lifeless Culture’ is less a song and more a poem with musical backing. This makes it no less compelling. The sound is fuller; driving sparse drums, bass and two guitars. One of those guitars provides atmospheric sounds. The words are a journey through our culture now; that’s culture in a wider sense. How the beauty of the world is drowned out by a tsunami of worthless, well, crap to be honest. It references, at least I think so, social media. The drowning out of proper discussion. The draining of hope. It therefore seems to expand on, or add to, the themes of ‘Sick!’.
Next up the heavier rock – I’m talking chugging riff here – of ‘Going Nowhere’. The heavier bassier sound suits the words that speak of, no surprise here, going nowhere fast. The grind of life now which seems to be at hyperspeed but does it get you anywhere? Be honest now. It talks of the speed with which the world seems to insist on going now.
‘Dystopian Nursery Rhyme’ is about the continued decay of our world and society. Make no mistake this is dark. The sound is grinding guitar, and a bust of harmonica. Yes, I guess you could call it dystopian blues. ‘Things Are Getting Strange Around Here’ speaks of the ‘strangeness of life’. It seems to advocate dropping out of the world now. It goes from rock grind to psychedelic beauty.
‘Noize Box’ is wonderful musically. And here I have to admit that despite listening to it on repeat for a period that must have had my neighbours cursing I have yet to work out.
The remaining three tracks form a three part piece – Confession. This is a spoken word piece accompanied by what sounds like improvised piano.
Part One ‘Enterlude Of A Slow Motion Car Crash’ seems to speak of the confusion and twists and turns of life. It asks eternal questions. It, obviously, describes life as a car crash but one that takes years to happen. Part Two ‘Within The Whiplash Realm’ talks of the result of a car crash life. What you can miss by treating life as a rehearsal. And Part Three ‘Exitude Into A Martian Time Dimension’ seems to allow the narrator to step outside of the world and observe.
The aggressive sound of the album – barring the final piece – sets up an album that is about the increasing disillusionment we have with the world, with society and with life. The words are words to ponder, to savour, to listen to properly. To hear the images and feelings they describe.
This is an incredible album. Even if you’re not into poetry or spoken word, can I strongly suggest that you do listen to it. it’s a compelling, incredibly rich and rewarding set of songs and pieces.