Well, who’d have thought it? Andy Weatherall, producer extraordinaire, and arguably one of the most influential figures in 1990s music, doing vocals on the next chapter of his collaboration with Keith Tenniswood.
Before you recoil in horror, he makes a damn good job of it too, not exactly singing but adapting a kind of pitched, spoken word style, which is distorted in keeping with the duo’s approach to electronica.
From The Double Gone Chapel is surely their most upfront album yet, looking to expand the sonic picture to include guitars and string lines that reek of early New Order. Much of the melodic material is bass-driven, as in the up tempo Formica Fuego or in the insistent riff underpinning The Lurch.
Sometimes the prominence of the lower parts can threaten the audibility of the treble, as in Damp, where the nuances given to the Swordsmen’s synthesized strings are very much in the background.
The lyrical content is well judged, with Weatherall used sparingly and thus more effectively. Kamanda’s Response observes that, “You may be on top of the world, you’re also sitting on my roof,” in what appears as a disfigured version of a Soft Cell track. Occasionally I was reminded of Tricky, particularly in the lumbering double bass of Taste Of Our Flames, which uses a favourite trick of his in its doubling of Weatherall with a female vocalist.
Also reminiscent of Tricky is the way in which the Swordsmen flit between musical styles – while the overall album majors on electronica, there are elements of rock, dub, punk and Madchester, which is the style most prevalent in the closing track, a surprisingly upbeat end to what is a predominantly dark album.
Once again Andy Weatherall has been involved in an album that looks to push boundaries between musical genres and remain challenging to the listener. From The Double Gone Chapel indicates that his Two Lone Swordsmen project has a lot still to contribute to electronic music.