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ANGELA VALID – This Book’s On Fire (CD, World In Winter Recordings)

Posted: June 7th, 2007, by Dave Stockwell

A promising EP recorded in a London church hall (with a nice view of HM Holloway) by a Sheffield-based duo who otherwise go by the names Iain Chambers and Alex Jones. After splitting a The Wire-acclaimed 7″ with a band called Asbourne’s Strongest Man, this is an opportunity to experience in full their flourishing vision of sparse, electronically-affected experimental rock music.

Beginning with a basic improvising set-up of drums and guitar, a lot of post-production, editing, manipulation and experimentation has obviously gone into the 4 tracks presented here, as well as some guest instrumentation and assistance from Pedro member James Rutledge. Though their press release references Tortoise, Wolf Eyes and the Constellation label, the music here takes me much further back to the approach of the masterful This Heat, who pioneered many ideas on display here almost 3 decades ago. Heavy editing and stitching together of seemingly disparate takes and ideas, “non-musicianship” utilised as a spontaneous source for textures, electronically-effected drums (the opening buzzing of a delayed drumkit sounds remarkably like ’24 Track Loop’) and dizzying layers of sound sources creating a disorientating and uncertain soundworld are all techniques that Angela Valid employ in deference to their progenitors. This is hardly a criticism though, as few bands have successfully taken the template established by This Heat and done anything interesting with it (Laddio Bolocko are just about the only people I can think of), and Angela Valid at least shower a small roman candle of idea-sparks that dazzle in comparison to yer average (and increasingly conservative) ‘post-rock’ band or braindead (and increasingly tiresome) ‘free-improvising’ dirge unit.

Bristling with overloaded circuits, clattering percussion and murky layers of meandering melodic progression piled on top of electronic squiggles and musical echoes, this EP meanders through its 33 minute duration in a very pleasant fashion, occasionally turning your ear with a particularly inventive idea or sound. Nicely restrained, it never threatens to overload your stereo with any kind of bombast or noise assault, and even in its most minimal moments the band sounds confident and assured. They are exploring textures and spaces that have been addressed before, but it’s been a whle since anyone did so with such vim and vigour.

Apparently Angela Valid will have further releases this year, culminating in a debut full-length album before 2008 hits. I, for one, will be listening out for these, as well as further releases by World In winter, a new London-based collective/label as young and imaginative as this band. You can find out more about both by checking out these links:


Dave Stockwell

David can always be relied on to end his e-mails with one of those 'np: blah blah' things in order to remind us of how much more music he listens to every day than anybody else. His interests include rockin ' out in a major style as guitarist in Souvaris, throwing frisbees from tall buildings "just to see what happens" and simply kickin' back with his bitches in a gold-plated jacuzzi.


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