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SPECTRUM MEETS CAPTAIN MEMPHIS – Indian Giver (CD, Birdman Records)

Posted: September 13th, 2008, by Simon Minter

In his post-Spacemen 3 years, Sonic Boom has followed a determined path of experimentation, releasing countless volumes of electronic music under the Spectrum and E.A.R. names, moving from the melodic Soul Kiss (Glide Divine) into more esoteric territory with collections of drones and relentlessly repetitive keyboard motifs. Indian Giver, Spectrum’s collaborative effort with Captain Memphis (aka Jim Dickinson, producer of Big Star’s Third, amongst a variety of other production work including the Replacements and Mudhoney) changes tack, being something of a collection of nods to the past. It features a variety of analogue instrumentation – upright bass, fiddles, trumpet, sax – alongside Sonic Boom’s trademark electronic shimmers, augmented here with space-rock sweeps and wooshes from Randall Nieman (Windy & Carl/Füxa). The album includes reworkings of Sonic Boom’s previous output – Spectrum’s ‘Take Your Time’, Spacemen 3’s ‘Hey Man’ and Mudhoney’s ‘When Tomorrow Hits’ (as previously covered by Spacemen 3 years ago). This, combined with Dickinson’s smoky, gruff blues vocals, create a warmer, more human sound, and one that has not been heard in Sonic Boom’s output for some time. He has always dug into the past for musical references from the blues and psychedelia, but here these influences are more transparent, less swathed in electronic experimentation, than ever before. For every soft Krautrock meditation like ‘Mary’ and ‘Take Your Time’ here, there are tracks like ‘Til Your Mainline Comes’ and ‘The Old Cow Died’ – raw, unpolished work that sounds all the better for it. The two styles merge to create songs like ‘Confederate Dead’, a wonderfully sedated take on Neu!, with added fiddle, and ‘The Lonesome Death Of Johnny Ace’, a travelling blues tale set to Duane Eddy’s twang over Kraftwerk’s synths. It’s great stuff, humanistic music combining Sonic Boom’s past loves and present interests to impressively natural-sounding ends.

Sonic Boom
Birdman Records

Simon Minter

Simon joined diskant after falling on his head from a great height. A diskant legend in his own lifetime Simon has risen up the ranks through a mixture of foolhardiness and wit. When not breaking musical barriers with top pop combo Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element or releasing records in preposterously exciting packaging he relaxes by looking like Steve Albini.


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