If you opened a dictionary at random and threw darts at it you might well come up with The Nectarine No 9 as the name of a band, plus the titles of many of the tracks on their new album, Received Transgressed Transmitted. How otherwise do you account for the opening instrumental being called Pong Fat 6?
The music seems random too, defying any attempt to categorise, and constantly surprising the listener with its variety. Though maybe that in itself isn’t surprising when Davy Henderson, ex-Fire Engines frontman, lists influences such as Captain Beefheart, T-Rex and The Velvet Underground. This first album for Beggars Banquet will surely not be the last for “Edinburgh’s premier voodoo beat seditionists”.
So, to the tracks. Well the aforementioned Pong Fat 6 is a crashing opening, literally, sounding like a herd of elephants let loose in a corrugated iron garage, and not very happy about being there. Once the shock is over however it’s strangely compelling with its insistent deep-throated drums, and fuzz clarinet courtesy of guest collaborator Gareth Sager (The Pop Group).
Susan Identifier starts out very nicely like a classic Lou Reed song (Henderson’s voice is very like Reed’s), and then all of a sudden changes completely into something even better – an irresistibly catchy, upbeat instrumental outro that lasts a full two minutes, but could go on for ever as far as I’m concerned. ‘Constellations of a Vanity’, released last year as a single, continues this highly accessible style and shows off the cohesion of the band as a whole – guitarists Simon Smeeton and Todd Thompson, drummer Ian Holford and bassist John Thompson. ‘Foundthings’, hushed vocals over whining, distorted guitars, is reminiscent of Anthony Reynolds atmospheric meanderings in the first Jacques album, How to Make Love, and none the worse for that.
Things get weird again with It’s Raining for some Cloudy Reasons, with the repeated refrain of “there is a silver moon” becoming an abstract sound alongside lots of plinks and plonks – an almost Japanese feel. Next we go to a laid-back reggae beat for Pocket Radiodrops, into deep grunge for Look At My Sleeves They Fall Down, and slightly jazzier grunge for Sic. Just as you think there’s nothing else to try along comes Lid, an exquisitely beautiful instrumental. Take ethereal harp sounds, add ultra-gentle percussion, then gentle guitars. Mix well, lie back and drift away… Fibrecane No 4 (what is this fixation with numbers?) is a bit of an anticlimax after that. ‘Bongo Kong’ sets the beat poetry of Jock Scott against, you guessed it, bongos (the band’s website reveals that they ‘tend to be invited to play events like Rebel Inc.’s booklaunch for the biography of Charles Bukowski’). Well, the album was in anger of losing all trace of subversion…
Lazy Crystal takes us back into the chillout lounge for eight minutes plus of mellow vocals (complete with lots of ‘ooos’ from backing vocals), fuzzy keyboards and simple guitar. If you were doing a workout, this would be perfect for the stretching and relaxation they insist you do at the end, when all you really want to do is get out of the gym and have a fag.
As a whole, this album is a real creeper. First hearing is interesting, and the more you listen the better it gets. Now I even like the elephants. While I’m not sure about Beggars Banquet’s quote that this album “continues the band’s tradition of being consistently brilliant”, I do think you should buy it and hear for yourself.