When you read that an album is influenced by Brian Wilson,
you expect lush harmonies, sleigh bells, and mentions of sun,
sea, and surf. Not here though, even if the Wilson influence
is undeniable. Think Pet Sounds instrumental Let's
Go Away For Awhile. This is almost lounge music with added
Wilsonesque weirdness. (Interestingly this is a sound that
Siouxsie has also gone for on They Follow You on her
rather good recent Mantary album).
This Wilson influence is never more apparent than on Volcano
Mono, the fabulous eight minute opening track. In truth,
the album probably never scales these heights again, although
it's certainly pushed all the way by tracks like the almost
pastoral, Bryter Layter meets Pet Sounds with
a drum machine Red Firecracker, the banjo led Kamo
River, and Held Inside, a dreamy Wilsonesque beauty.
And although these are predominantly instrumental pieces,
the more song-based numbers work well, too. There Is Light and Seconds remind
me of Skeletons & The King Of All Cities with their light,
other worldliness and Tonight has an almost baroque
feel and some Bert Jansch-like finger picking.
The Wilson influence shows up again on Fidlam Bens, which takes the cowboy feel of Cabinessence as its backdrop, before the album closes on a real high. The closing section of Waiting Forů , with its dreamy harmonies over its 60s sounding guitar, is gorgeous as is the all-too-brief instrumental A Word From Out Sponsor.
Apparently, this album was made by two brothers (Mik and Rich Hanscomb) at home in South East England with some mates, but there's such a looseness and freeness about the playing that it doesn't feel like a home recording at all. Indeed it sounds like it's been recorded in a big spacious studio with musicians falling over themselves and the thousands of leads that are lying across the floor. You can almost see a cute but overweight American chap in a check shirt telling the musicians exactly what he wants. Indeed with the odd bit of talking and shuffling noises in the background in between a couple of tracks, it brings to mind the studio out-takes on the Pet Sounds boxset. Just one of the many nice touches here.