Adrian Cooper has been unwell

Old reviews that are no longer available online, or from sites that no longer exist. The pen is dead, long live the camera.

Monday, November 09, 2009


It’s good to see progress in action. When Electrelane first arrived back in 2000 they were an intriguing blend of space rock and film soundtrack, incidental music that was so disparate from everything else around that it was practically coincidental to fashion and trend. Their second album, ‘The Power Out’ and the preceding ‘I Want To Be The President’ EP, added muscle and greater substance to that equation. Not only that, but where some of the tracks on their debut, ‘Rock It To The Moon’, were too drawn out for comfort, ‘The Power Out’ was a leaner creature, stripped of procrastination that just hunkered down and got on with it.

Axes, the Steven Albini-produced third album, and first to feature new bassist Ros Murray, continues this evolution. Although it remains true to the blueprint laid down on ‘The Power Out’, the ideas contained within that album have been now been expanded upon, allowed to grow organically, and revel in their own glory, while simultaneously looking to the past and future for sustenance.

Once the thrash of opener ‘One, Two, Three, Lots’ has died down, a riff akin to Neu’s ‘Isi’ signals the beginning of ‘Bells’, a krautrocking epic that can stand proud alongside it’s Teutonic predecessor. The shuddering stop-start rhythms of ‘If Not Now, When?’ build on this promising start, juxtaposing gentle piano arpeggios with a driving beat that gradually becomes more and more insistent.

The impressions of perpetual motion and locomotive power increase the further into the album you get and become most apparent as the sound of faraway howling train horns ushers in ‘Gone Darker’. As the track gathers pace, the horns are replaced by the background squeal of distant sax, locking into the groove and dragging the song along with its discordant shrieks.

It’s certainly not all easy sailing, ‘Business Or Otherwise’ and its jerky spazz-jazz rhythm and lack of recognisable notes gives the distinct impression that someone foolishly let John Cage in the studio, while “these Pockets Are People’ and ‘Suitcase’ sound suspiciously Electrelane by numbers, though the former does serve as a useful, if perhaps overly long, intro by a heavy and punishing cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘The Partisan’.

If you can ignore its couple of minor shortcomings, your perseverance with ‘Axes’ will ultimately be rewarded. All we need to do now is see where Electrelane go from here.

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