TITEL kulturmagazin
Montag, 27. März 2017 | 12:34

Die Popkolumne aus London

13.10.2012

Look back in Wah Wah

Way back in that mythical time of 1994 before mobile phones or iPods were invented a band called James released an album called rather fittingly Wah Wah. The band had previously enjoyed considerable success during the Madchester era (which originated in Manchester and was supposedly a bit mad, hence Madchester) with massive hits including Laid, and the ubiquitous Sit Down. A historical Review by JOHN BITTLES.

 

Greeted with derision by the press and ignored by the record buying public the album managed to slip into relative obscurity not long after release. Yet this album which was filled with ambient sketches and leftfield pieces somehow wormed its way into my usually cold and unforgiving heart where it still remains to this very day.

 

Featuring a compilation of sound experiments that were conducted in partnership with that sonic architect Brian Eno the album invigorates while challenging the listener through what could pretentiously be described as the deconstruction of »the song« in both structure and form. In most tracks the vocals are hidden in the background and are almost inaudible. This is subtly utilised to create both an eerie and calming effect. Heavy influences include Autechre, Aphex Twin and other IDM pioneers.

 

Yet just when this whole audible sculpture appears to be in danger of becoming too dense and disorientating the album will swoop into the indie swoon of tracks such as Tomorrow whose uplifting feel eagerly lifts the overall vibe to festival favourite style heights. Mournful lyrics combine forces with sweeping electronics, and just a hint of guitar, to heavenly effect.

 

Other highlights include Maria which combines its Lynchian spoken word vocals and Tim Booth’s lovelorn yelps to create something so immensely powerful that listening to it is the aural equivalent of looking up at the stars after taking a cheeky tab and feeling certain that you just felt the earth come to a halt. The beautiful hushed break beats of Low Clouds also uses Tim’s yearning and joyful vocals to bewitching effect. Each and every time I listen to this song it never fails to send a shiver up and down my spine.

 

The wondrous tracks come thick and fast though. For instance one early melancholic highlight is Pressure’s On, and I challenge anyone to listen this song and not feel their soul soar with unbridled delight.

 

Jam J funks like no other, and is a tune that was seemingly created for bad disco dancing. Play this track at your local disco emporium and delight in the look of bemusement in half the audiences’ faces while the other Floor-Pieces groove within its wonky joy. If this isn’t the benchmark of what makes a truly great track then I hereby declare that gravity is a myth, the earth sucks!

 

How many long and lonely nights has this album kept me steadfast company? Far too many for me to even attempt to count without running the risk of falling into a fit of depression and entering into Radiohead level gloom.

 

The strange one

Ninety percent of the people you play this album to won’t »get it« and will probably think that you’re a little bit weird. But people do already, trust me, I’ve heard them talk. And also trust me when I tell you that it is worth the risk of losing friends and becoming known as »The strange one« in your social group, as the other ten percent will immediately fall in love with the disparate songs on this gem of a record. They will then manically track down a copy (some fool deleted it, so finding a physical copy can be harder than finding a child that doesn’t feel a chill standing on Michael Jackson’s grave) and cherish the fantastic tunes contained within. You will also find that you have now made this person a friend for life. And you don’t get that with a Hurts record do you?

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Liebe Leserinnen, liebe Leser!


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