Just when you thought the solo output couldn’t get any more surreal or off-the-wall bonkers……
2015 saw the release of Adventures In Dementia. A 10” vinyl release with just six tracks packed into less than 15 minutes, it’s more akin to an EP than a fully-blown album. The concept this time, and I still shake my head in disbelief as I type these words, is that of a Mark E Smith impersonator towing a caravan, only for his vehicle(s) to collide with a car driven by Ian Stuart, the late singer of the neo-Nazi band called Skrewdiver (me neither!!).
I’m not entirely convinced that the concept really hangs together and perhaps it is something that would have made more sense (or at least a semblance of sense) if caught live at the outset when it was part of a performance within a wider arts-related event, curated by someone whose main gallery describes his output as being “infused with a cunning media savviness that deftly navigates between product, messaging, and desire.”
You’ll come across all sorts of musical styles on Adventures….., not least a kazoo-led instrumental version of the hymn Jerusalem, a tune that a number of folk have suggested by adopted as the national anthem should England ever find itself wholly independent and not part of the UK……,none of which hark back whatsoever to The Auteurs or Black Box Recorder. Lyrically, there’s more than a passing nod to the seemingly free-style stuff that Mark E Smith was famed for – i.e., it leaves listeners scratching their heads and wondering what the hell he’s on about – and, as ever with any Luke Haines release, there’s a few folk who are provoked, nor least the Skrewdriver vocalist (who in fact passed away in 1993) and the comedian David Baddiel, whose material, shows and writings over the years have divided opinion.
As you’ve probably worked out by now, it’s a release I’m not too sure about. I’ve often wondered whether it was put out to antagonise and test Haines’s fanbase, given that the vinyl went for the same price as a full-blown album and that a couple of tracks were no more than throwaway novelties. It’s certainly the one I go back to least of all, probably not having listened to it more than three or four times all told. This might give you an idea of what I’m trying to convey:-
Oh and ignore the sticker thay adorns the sleeve in the image above. There were no singles lifted from Adventures in Dementia although Caravan Man was given a seperate digital release.
Later that same year, Luke Haines released another solo album. I’ll make things easy by lifting direct from the website of his record label:-
Beneath the surface of the UK lies a vast and secret network of abandoned nuclear bunkers. Sometime in the future the population of Great Britain has retreated into these bunkers. The reason for this exodus is not clear. Nuclear attack? Chemical attack? Germ warfare? Or perhaps even free will. What is known is that beneath the surface, in the bunkers, people live the utopian dream, communicating wordlessly via a highly developed new subconsciousness. There is no need for money and food is plentiful. The old gods have been forgotten. People now offer prayer to a piece of silverware, referred to as the ‘New Pagan Sun’, found in a bunker at Stoke on Trent, near to the location of the 1980 Darts World Championship final between Eric Bristow and Bobby George.
British Nuclear Bunkers is the new album by Luke Haines. It was recorded using entirely analogue synthesisers. Apart from an occasional vocal the only organic sound used is a recording of Camden Borough Control Bunker being attacked late at night by Luke Haines.
Maximum Electronic Rock and Roll.
British Nuclear Bunkers will be released by Cherry Red Records on October 16th 2015. It will be available on CD, Vinyl (with a free 7′ single) and the usual digital outlets.
Once again, it’s a fairly short piece of work, with its ten tracks taking up around 30 minutes of your life. It’s not hugely accessible but then again, it’s not totally unlistenable. It’s a work that hardcore fans of electronica would possibly lavish with praise, highlighting its merits with comparisons to others in the genre, but I’ll have to hold my hands up and say that I know as much about the folk-songs of Moldovia as I do about music which is released on a label such as Ghost Box.
I do, however, find myself switching in on and giving it a listen through the headphones when I’m looking for something to help me get over an unexpected bout of insomnia as it has an occasionally soothing ability.
Here’s the two tracks that came as the free 7″ single:-
Tune in next week for the final part of this series. It’s actually one that borders on mainstream!