Effigies In Cork


The origins of this record are more or less like this: US bass player and multi-instrumentalist Bob Drake (a former member of Thinking Plague, Hail and 5UUs, now a much-appreciated producer and sound engineer in the studio he owns in the south of France) proposed to Dutch guitar player Lukas Simonis to record a "twangy guitar album" in the tradition of the Ventures, the Shadows and surf music, not as a faithful replica but as brought into a modern dimension. They would rehearse, play and record as a whole, then they would overdub and do some more work on the tapes. The two agreed on Chris Cutler as the ideal drummer to complete the line-up; Simonis would write the tunes, Drake would do the studio work. As the result, we have Effigies In Cork. (Or at least this is the way it went as I understood it. The CD booklet talks about something else entirely - but why? And there's not even a single picture of any of the guitars that were used!)

In cases like this - assuming the initial impulse produces good results, as is certainly the case here - things are frighteningly simple, our appreciation of the finished work depending only on how much we care for the initial concept (which in Effigies In Cork is quite respected, though there are a few interesting detours). And I'm quite certain that this is an album which could get some serious commercial success - if only potential buyers knew it exists.

The work as a whole is rich in brio and - given the general coordinates - timbral fantasy. I mostly liked Simonis's guitar work (it was the first time I heard him). After a few moments of shock - with the exception of some fast snare rolls, it was difficult for me at first to tell it was him playing - it was easy to appreciate Chris Cutler's versatility. I couldn't really get Bob Drake's instrumental work, while his contribution in terms of recording and post-production is obviously big - sometimes quite apparent, other times more subtle.

The album works like a charm - no particular peaks and valleys, but some curious moments (such as Crumpled Armata, where I almost thought I was about to hear the voice of Otis Redding) and tracks like Clairvoyant Pig and Uncanny Heversack, which I think show more than a casual resemblance to atmospheres by Les Quatre Guitaristes De L'Apocalypso-Bar (does anybody remember them?), another group a propos of which "irony" was a word one could use.

The only strange issue for me (but maybe it's not a really pertinent observation, given the album's general coordinates) was a sort of lack of personality in most tracks - at the end of the record what I was left with was more a "flavour" than a distinctive melodic identity. Which is something I could never had said about a group whose recordings come to my mind while listening to Effigies In Cork: Robert Fripp's The League Of Gentlemen. As always, the reader is invited to listen and to draw his (her?) own conclusion.

Beppe Colli

© Beppe Colli 2004

CloudsandClocks.net | Jan. 18, 2004