Thirty-odd years ago, the musical landscape was changed forever when some bright spark decided to speak in a rhythmical manner over the top of a backing track. In essence, this geezer was more or less reciting poetry, but with an added beat and in doing so created the then new sound of ‘rap.’
Now, as we all know, musical trends as with even the physical rotation of the re-emerging vinyl format on a turntable, follow a cyclical motion. And this has I feel, some relevance where THE SAVAGE NOMADS are concerned.
‘Tension In The Middle’ basically typifies this band’s unique style – a pretty much spoken vocal delivery that certainly retains the rhythmical nuances of ‘rap,’ but is definitely more aligned to its poetical precursor.
(I realise that use of the word ‘poetry’ in a description of the band’s work could prove counter-productive, but before rushing towards any rash preconceptions just remember that the likes of Captain Beefheart and John Cooper Clarke were great exponents of the spoken word …. and they were pretty dammed cool!)
But the EP’s title track is more than just spoken word – the backing vocals gently harmonise; the piano arpeggio loops throughout; the drums resonate with a little military discipline that is echoed in the distant chants and the guitar chimes add some subtle intricacy.
On the face of it, this sounds like such a simple track, but as with much of their music, ‘Tension In The Middle’ is rather a synergetic song.
With the other songs being ‘An Empty Seat’ (lifted from the band’s debut album from last year) and its ‘Clean Radio Version’ together with a radio edit of the title song, the additional ‘new’ track is ‘Four Personalities.’
This one has a quicker pace about it. There’s a bit of a bounce around certain parts – and even handclaps, if I’m not mistaken! Again, Cole’s vocal delivery is what defines the track, but listen to the backing if you will. Minimal use of effects highlight just how versatile and proficient these guys are. The guitar, especially, zips in and out – and without it taking on an ‘attention-seeking’ ostentatious feel.
And briefly, for those who have not yet listened (or even better, bought) the album ‘Coloured Clutter,’ ‘An Empty Seat’ sees the band in more ‘determined’ mode. The song stomps through its four and a half minutes on the bed of a pounding bass-line, offset by a ‘Woo Hoo!’ backing vocal, whilst Cole more sings than recites the lyrics. It all gets quite frenetic as it heads towards the climax with some added horns used to beef up the sound, and little echoes of dub added to the guitar here and there.
Hey! Guess what?! Would it surprise you to learn that THE SAVAGE NOMADS are just about my most favourite band around right now?
(Released through Alaska Sounds on 28th May 2012)
(10 / 10 of course!)