Thursday, October 28, 2004

unsponsored praise

It’s been less than 24 months since Andrew became the Bedsit Bomber. His new CD, ‘Best of… 03/04’, demonstrates how far he’s come. It’s an excellent, sometimes unnerving distillation of his sound.

Bedsit Bomber make an unusually organic kind of electronic music. Tracks which often begin fully formed nevertheless take time to unfold – their components are odd, dislocated things which slowly draw themselves together and reveal the song. Much of the sound is squeaks and shrill, bird like trills, shimmering over delicate beats. The first two songs, Rat Race (Ian Duncan Smoothe mix) and Sylvan Wood are perfect examples, vessels for Andrew’s sound. They’re unconventional, the latter, like a lot of BB’s songs, oddly without bass, but for a spasming rumble like a vacuum cleaner swathed in feedback, which underpins the odd, loopy melodies above.

In drawing together his track listing, from over 70 songs, Andrew slowly shaved off his most successful early tracks, and rightly so. His best work is his most recent, where the sounds and textures have broadened out, taking in everything from treated woodwind instruments to distorted guitars, and some beautiful ringing bells which recall early minimalism.

Occasionally, these components compile to create quite breathtaking soundscapes. On Succour and Liquor a series of chimes, whistles and musical glottal stops writhe before a tremendous, thudding bassline appears from nowhere. For head-music, it’s a metaphorical hands-in-the-air moment.

Things don’t always work out quite so well. Andrew can pick out a lovely melody but his harmonies often seem out (perhaps deliberately so) and he’s better with melodies than he is with rhythms, for the moment. Once or twice, on Oyasuminasai and Please Don’t Bomb Detroit, he experiments with hip hop, but his beats aren’t quite there yet and the tunes don’t quite make it through.

But songs like East River are wonderful – like music from a nightmare sequence in a horror film about a child with horrific powers, but filtered down through traditional American folk music. Eerie pianos and bursts of sinister horns are absolutely thrilling, the ending sublime.

Fellow electronic whizz kid Matt Gunn, meanwhile, lends a hand with a pleasingly funky re-working of Mr Moonlight, adding a cracking electro beat and acid squiggles to Andrew’s delicate atmospherics. It’s an uplifting spike, direct where BB usually prod and shimmer. The subsequent Heavy Flow, though, can stake it's own claim for attention; here Bedsit Bomber’s beats are spot on - crisp and lean.

Island Made For Two offers compelling evidence of Andrew’s developing ear and musicianship – built around a fragile loop the song soars on several occasions as he introduces a lilting, unexpected piano riff. It’s the elegiac soundtrack to an unmade science fiction film. A beat emerges, alone, at the end, and the song is gone.

Critical Selection, which recalls early Autechre, is more machine music than the tracks which precede it, but its second half could sit happily on Autechre’s awesome ‘Incunabula’ (once it recovers from a rather frantic start where BB briefly threatens to go trance). A recent mix of Sorbitol, the oldest song here (albeit in new clothes) is further evidence of versatility, demonstrating (as much of BB’s recent work does) an interest in dub and – to a lesser extent – rock instrumentation. And the final track, Numb and Number, is awash with sound and other worldly, like waking from dreams on sand at some side of an unfamiliar ocean.

It’s hard to emphasise just how far BB have come. This set of 13 tracks (I’ve got a review copy, but I think the track listing is final), a nominal ‘best of’ from Andrew’s already large body of work (much of it available to download on his site), is an ideal introduction to the unsettling, impressive world of Bedsit Bomber; bells, whistles, alien chatter and all. Listen with the lights on.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

where can i get this? in the shops or just via the guy's website?

BB said...

To everyone interested in getting a copy of the CD, I'll be making it available on my site within a day or so. Here's the link:

Bedsit Bomber CD Store