Album review

Large Number : Spray On Sound
The White Label

Large Number : Spray On SoundSome albums heralded as 'sounding like nothing else right now' come across as contrived. Not so Large Number's debut album. It doesn't try to be weird or quirky, but is a genuine oddball delight that should allow a few moments of warped pleasure for those who like their music to be interesting.
    Former Add N To (X) electro-historian, Ann Shenton delivers on a creative brief not entirely original in its conceit, but that doesn't stop it being a thoroughly enjoyable trawl through the annals of analogue synth music.
    In listening to this collection of 14 post-rock/electronica experiments it is difficult not to start compiling a mental list of all the early electronic influences at work. The more even-tempered side of Neu! and Autobahn-era Kraftwerk stand out as obvious comparisons, although Spray On Sound has a lot more humour woven through the bloops, beeps and whizzo low-tech tomfoolery than either of these Teutons could muster.

Spray On Sound kicks off with the thematic bimbling of The Creaky O.K. and leads smartly into Pink Jazz, a frantic low-tech cyber visit to the twisted jazz world of Carla Bley. Hunchback In The Dark is the bastard son of Kraftwerk's breezy Morgenspaziergang, while Crazy sounds like a stagey Broadway C&W dialogue between a bickering Kris Kristofferson and Barbra Streisand - it's better than it sounds!
    Borrowing heavily from George Clinton's fascination with one word, multi-syllabic titles is Chronosynclasticinfundibulation. It's an almost normal head-down rocker of a track that takes longer to work out how to say than listen to. Easier to say, but more demanding to listen to, Spring On Electris and Autumn On Electris paint vivid images of a strangely beautiful planet out of season, reminiscent of David Vorhaus' White Noise111.
    The Transgenic Banjo Player morphs from a laid back Daevid Allen accidental space travel ditty into a more urgent piece, overlaid with a Bootsy Collins-like vocal refrain.
    From the coldness of outer-space we get right down to the warmth of a folk-roots ditty in Lexical Synesthesia. The only song I know that ponders the merits of a 99p microphone.

The brothers Hartnoll are caught in a romantic interlude with a big John Barry theme in Love On Asylum, a moving theremin/harpsichord duet straight out of Jason King or The Persuaders.
    Track 12, Twenty Two Seconds, is 22 seconds long. Just so you know.
    Sampled dogs and cows haunt the a-rhythmic dystopia of Emotional Life Of Animals. This sounds like the diseased mind of a BBC radiophonic workshop boffin, given free-reign in his lunch break. The fractured beeps and bloops eventually give way to a few short bars reminiscent of Nick Mason's Grand Vizier's Garden Party; all crash, bang wallop on real drums, then it stops. Intriguing stuff.
    And so to the album closer, The Earth Has Shrunk In The Wash. It rocks like only a museum load of analogue synths can rock. It's like Les off Vic Reeves Big Night Out having the time of his life at a Deep Purple gig. Only not as loud.

So that's it. In an industry that has become so geared to markets, territories and profit, it's amazing that anyone has the nerve to put an album out like this. But it’s a joy that they have, although sadly ironic that we need to step back to a more, dare I say it, avant garde era to find the inspiration to move forward again. Not that Spray On Sound is the future, but it does a damn fine job keeping the now interesting while we wait.

:: Tom Alford

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