Thursday, 5 March 2015

Peter Hope & the Exploding Mind - Hot Crow on the Wrong Hand Side (2015)

Older readers may recall Peter Hope as the tonsils of the Box, one of Sheffield's numerous finest, and this came my way specifically due to my having written about The Box @Doublevision a few months back, which is nice, and very much a trend I am keen to encourage.

Peter Hope seems to have become the living embodiment of the Def Jux independent as fuck maxim and presently runs the Wrong Revolution label, purveyors of all sorts or noisy oddities, discs, tape cassettes, and whatever the hell else they feel like doing at any given moment. His seemingly frenzied activity somehow presents the impression of some grizzled Beefheartian outsider living in a van by the river and scaring the shit out of anyone foolish enough to be out walking their dog at that time of night, which is almost certainly wrong, but that's nevertheless the impression I've formed and Hot Crow on the Wrong Hand Side does nothing to dispel it.

It begins well with Red C, a sort of Suicide-style grind scored for mains hum and antique drum machine; which runs into Hot Crow which sounds like it began life inside the dashboard of some LA lowrider driven by a bald, angry guy with his beard knotted into a gang sign - or more specifically we go from Alan Vega to a sort of distorted Lench Mob in the blink of an eye, and from thereon the swerves continue in similarly random and dramatic fashion. Oh Death is the next track, roughly a descent into gut-wrenching delta blues for Casio VL-1 played with hammers, and here is revealed the key to Hope's appeal, namely that he has a seriously great voice. I'm not sure about range or the technical stuff, but he really can sing, and as such probably qualifies as one of the few people whose music has ever been spuriously qualified as industrial about which this can be said; or can at least be said if we're working with the assumption that Bowie can sing. That said, any resemblance to Bowie's sausagery is defeated by their being significantly less room for parody. On the other hand, maybe I was thinking of Lux Interior...

This is an odd album, and nothing like I anticipated. It sounds quite basic whilst obviously being born from some sort of laptoppy sampley thing, cubase running on a computer cannibalised from reconditioned 1970s Grundig tape recorders springs to mind if that isn't disappearing a bit too far up my own journalistic sphincter; or, it could just as easily have been mastered on cassette, if you prefer, and this isn't invoked as necessarily a bad thing. Unlike certain laptop glitch bores whose names I've thankfully forgotten, this is just enough of a mess to keep it interesting each time you listen, distorted without turning everything into a Ramleh album, and not quite like anything else I've heard for a good few years, a surprisingly funky racket.

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