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Colin Newman


Quite a departure from his previous releases, Bastard finds Colin Newman accomodating a veritable 'pick and mix' of styles, genres and beats. Lacking vocals, apart from a single line on Turn, and avoiding the traditional verse/chorus approach of most mainstream pop/rock music, Bastard concentrates on repetition and layering, slowly building tracks over time.

The release inititally seems reminiscent of a compilation and at times one suspects Newman tries a little to hard to be different to himself, especially with G-Deep, which comes across as a poor g-man track. However, further listens reveal a coherance throughout most of the pieces and a hypnotic approach to reinventing rock from within a sampler. Spaced in and The Orange House and the Blue House rapidly gain 'classic' status with their mesh of guitars, rocky beats and atmospheric textures. Without is simply a masterpiece—a warm, orchestral-tinged track of heart-warming beauty.

Ever one with a wry sense of humour, Newman has also spent quite a lot of time studying other people's music and recent trends with less than honourable intentions. In a similar way to Wire's mugging of '60s classics, drum 'n' bass is mashed to a pulp here. Slowfast (Falling Down the Stairs with a Drumkit) is a dance track that's far too fast to dance to, spraying nagging guitars over the mix.

The lack of vocals will surprise some, as might the lack of 'tunes' when thinking back to A-Z and similar releases, but there's more than enough to get your teeth into here. Varied styles ensure this is an exciting listening experience and you'll not be disappointed—unless you wanted to hear some singing.

Craig Grannell (1998)

Cover artwork