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!)
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.
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.
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.
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 2004
| Jan. 18, 2004