Sunday, 24 August 2008

Minotaur Shock- 'Amateur Dramatics' (4AD)

Sort of following the lauded/lambasted Radiohead concept, fans of Minotaur Shock pay a varying price for each track of this album, depending on difficulty, fun, whether it made his computer crash and how many extra musicians, amongst others. Attention grabbing. Tick. Clever. Tick. Going to stop kids downloading. Cross. Sad really, because this album deserves the money.

'Zookeeper' starts off with an out of kilter piano, adds cello and some drums, then puts more instrumentation over the top, before returning yet again to the piano run, like a dog back to its vomit. Except not, cos it's brilliant.

'Am Dram' carries on the odd electronic feel of the album. Handclaps rub along with a churning synth which rubs along with woodwind playing out the melody. The electronic elements start to take over on 'This Plane Is Going To Fall', gradually replacing the human with the machine, burbles and whirrs erasing the natural. Disembodied voices make their first and only appearance, ghosts in the machine.

The human has been completely erased by 'Jason Forrest', where clashing keyboards create the most danceable moments of the record, bass heavy and flowing. It sounds like a rave up in a club decorated with branches and leaves, a rainforest atmosphere. The pace is disorientatingly slowed on 'Two Magpies', as woozy beeps shiver into fading violins, all melancholic and cute.

Patrick Wolf is almost channeled on 'My Burr', his technicolour dress sense just visible behind the keyboard gurgle and descending strings. 'BATS' sounds the only downpoint of the record, a dirty beat meandering for far too long, with the melodies that dominate through the circuit boards forgotten temporarily.

'Snapdragon' then throws the creeps and the night horrors onto record, slightly off key pianos and spooky strings, shifting tempos and an eerie overlay of static. It's enough to make someone scared in the middle of the day, in a room full of people, let alone at night in a foggy village.

'Buzzards' does not sound like the birds of prey of its title, and more like motorway driving, Kraftwerk like. The pushing drums and trumpet stabs create a feeling of motion and isolation, and the track works brilliantly.

Album close 'Beekeeper' is slippy slidey, moving from electronics into entwining snakes of chimes and strings and trumpets before it all comes into focus, a gorgeous layered image. 'Amateur Dramatics' is great, an album that has a heart under its metal skin, strings and brass mixing with synths and computers to create deliriously danceable ditties.

No comments: