Album Reviews

Elegiac – Elegiac

(Upp) UK release date: 26 March 2021


Elegiac - Elegiac Over the last four decades Ted Milton and Edvard Graham Lewis have revelled in ploughing similarly dissonant similar terrains so their inevitable work together under the name Elegiac has had a relatively protracted genesis. Milton’s output as poet laureate behind avant punk funksters Blurt and Lewis’s labours in cult heroes Wire, along with his spoken word adventures as He Said, positioned them both as free thinking radicals who shared a dual concern with the celebratory intricacies of language and the cadaverous gestures inherent in rock music. Blurring their distinctive sensibilities, this debut record marks a return to the dynamic strategies of yore.

The frantic encouragements of Vous Et Ici, which initiates proceedings, has Milton laying out a series of subjectively paranoid interpersonal hysterias, exposing them to the listener. An agitated cousin to the corrugated declarations of Amour De Ma Vie from Blurt’s 1992 album Pagan Strings, his distinctively performative voice begins to slip into snatches of French as he relinquishes passionate accoutrements and his saxophone discharges a roughly hewn solo, over Lewis’ stubborn electronics. Lewis’ contributions to the track may initially seem diminutive in comparison to Milton’s outspoken vocalisations, but the expansive interplay between the pair represents a genuine sense of psychic cohesion.

Cleverly skewering the vapid nature of virility and banal push for expediency, the following track So Far has Milton dryly reciting instructions for planking a boat’s hull over industrial grooves. Scrutinising architectural space as a metaphor for the art of creative association, the track hints at a savage tableau in which the ever flexible duo can build their excessive vignettes with ironic abandon. The brutalist cues of Pelican House, punctuated by a wave of punishing digital collisions and exaggerated sax, has Milton relishing in good old-fashioned moralism. Outfitted with a monolithic bassline, on The Daffodil Woman the indignant couple wear their idiosyncrasies with pride, Milton’s wavering sentences nakedly degrading over Lewis’ hydraulic firmament.

The gauche libations of The Swish recall the polite contestations of Pump, which featured on He Said’s 1986 album Hail, as well as the subliminal impulses of ’70s Cologne rockers Can, as Milton compulsively bargains with a departing companion. His devotion undergoes an emotional transformation and he emerges as strategically minded menace. Awkward incriminations prevail on Boat 1, Ian’s Gone and passive aggressive One Two as Milton implicates himself further. Conversely on He Folds, bathed in Lewis’ exacting modalities, the repetitive actions of others arouse the poet’s curiosity. The album closes with Vancouver Slim, its fragmented rhythmic skittishness rendering the text momentarily inanimate.

Circumnavigating this theatrical and decorative record requires substantial amounts of momentum. Framed by the presence of two vehemently liberated and reflective originators, its modernist physicality and spatially paralleled forms will continue to position Lewis and Milton as noteworthy musical institutions, and its insidious observations of contemporary traditions will forever alter those who come in direct contact with it.


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Elegiac – Elegiac