This is more like it.
After the disappointment of last month’s selection by audiobooks, the December Rough Trade album is much more up my straße.
AMOR are a Glaswegian four piece with two 12″ singles under their belts already (They are to upper case what audiobooks are to lower case). There is experience in their ranks with Franz Ferdinand’s Paul Thomson on drums and the hugely prolific Richard Youngs on vocals. Youngs has an enormous back catalogue (upwards of 80 releases when his frequent collaborations are included). Luke Fowler is an established visual artist and musician. Bass player Michael Francis Duch is Norwegian and an Associate Professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).
It is Duch’s double bass that hooks you in, just shy of two minutes into opener Phantoms of the Sun before Youngs’ vocal and two beautiful piano chords propel the groove along. It sounds improvisatory and is everything that similarly composed audiobooks album was not.
Glimpses Across Thunder recalls Black Tie White Noise-era Bowie, with an initial blast of propulsion before the melody and a funky staccato motif. With only five songs on the album, ideas are given space to stretch out and develop. One can hear how releasing 12″ singles has informed the bands thinking, especially with groove-based tracks such as Full Fathom Future. We are in the territory of extended Factory mixes of New Order and A Certain Ratio. There’s always a melody there though, with Youngs bringing to mind fellow Glaswegian’s The Blue Nile and in particular Paul Buchanan’s plangent vocals.
This is confident mature music, born of knowing your way around a recording studio. Duch’s bassline is the star again for side two’s opener Heaven Among The Days before Thomson’s powerful backbeat joins. Everything has space to breathe, the way those three tracks on the opening half of Talking Heads Remain In Light did.
The album’s closer Truth of Life ties all of the strands together. Almost fourteen minutes long, a Chicago House dancefloor beat gets us on our feet with traces of melody bouncing around, as if King Tubby as at the controls. Duch’s double bass makes another appearance but this time bowed whilst the percussion starts to collapse in a little. This dubby melange continues to develop. Franz Ferdinand did a dub remix of my favourite album of their’s, Tonight, and this is in a similar headspace.
The Rough Trade bonus CD is the aforementioned two 12″ singles compiled on one disc – both A and B sides. This highlights how much of enjoyable format this has been through the years. Certain bands in the 80s in particulars knew how to get the most out of the extra groove space afforded – New Order, pre-New Gold Dream Simple Minds, Scritti Politti immediately come to mind.
The group’s Bandcamp page shows a gig at a local arts studio here in Haringey in February. The deal is done – eight quid and I’m in.
The more I play this album, the more I get out of it. You can’t say fairer than that.