If you’re talking about original and inspiring acts to emerge from the outdoor summer fandangos, then Flipron’s three-headed dog flag must be up there pretty high. With an irresistible sense of the bizarre, their ramshackle Cadillac cruised the UK’s summer pastures picking up new admirers galore, and with their faithful Tiny Dog label putting out Biscuits for Cerberus and airplay promised on major alternative stations, they’re steering into eerily popular realms.
The baroque imagery of lead man Jesse Budd is by no means a thing of the people, yet has the character and potential to connect with the masses in the crazy style of someone like Chuck Jones. Budd is a fascinatingly impish character, claiming to have acquired his sense of the exotically surreal from times spent broke and perusing the cardboard record boxes of London’s second-hand stores, and this certainly stands up when you try to pin down just where a band like this could have come from, musical influence-wise.
The song notes that comprise the press pack are fully representative of Budd’s mind, which should by all means be rapped in chains at London’s penitentiary for crimes against linear thinking. “I was reading about Cerberus, the multi-headed, snake-tailed guard dog of Hades, and learned that, far from being a savage, ferocious beast all the time, he was actually really friendly to you when you arrived, freshly dead,” is just one nugget from these explanations, in which the extent of the enjoyment he takes at getting into the heads of antiquated mythical figures and weaving tales of unlikely modern morality shines through.
The notes for Ball and Chain (actually a ditty about potent regret) quote renowned Throckley poet Basil Bunting while elaborating on Budd’s further hope of recording an instrumental version to sell to a nouveau-burlesque stripper, and the song itself is a feast of Roy Smeck-esque steel-guitar and piano quirks further tuned to evocative lunacy by a plastic plant tub being dropped on a stone floor in imitation of the medieval restraining implement.
And oh how Budd speaks – like a raconteur at the most outlandish party in town. His delivery in pen, speech and song is at the same time archly imaginative and low-down grimy, like the late Ivor Cutler speaking through the medium of Noddy Holder. But oh how he plays. Flipron’s live shows are notable for the way Budd does “multi-instrumentalist” like a musical Durga, playing on electric lap steel, piano, acoustic and Hawaiian steel guitars, electric sitar, banjulele, mandolin and accordion with surreal grace, and Biscuits is a damn fine recorded representation of the live experience.
Further highlights on the album include the shimmering, organ-ised Youth Shall Never Beat Old Age In A Race, the cuttingly redemptive, clarinet-speckled Big & Clever, the crazy-scientist-sensual Flatpack Bride of Possibilities and the rolling King Herod pastiche Bring Me The Head Of John The Baptist; not forgetting the evocative lament to The Man Who Was Eaten By A Pie, the enchanted ode to love and death that is Mingers In Paradise, and the triumphant mongrel-anthem Dogboy Vs Monsters, on all of which the music adopts a life of its own behind Budd’s shtick like sounds from a spectral band in a spooky Scooby haven.
Its DiY cod UK tropicalia, subtly hilarious and divertingly, cartoonishly skilful, Biscuits for Cerberus is a work that bridges the gap between Half Man Half Biscuit and the comic-book baroque in the true spirit of musical and literary lunacy. Don’t hail, just succumb. To Flipron: the most original band in the UK.