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RASCAL REPORTERS – THE STRAINGE CASE OF STEVE- CUNEIFORM RECORDS (2023)

Starting with some choppy organ chords, ‘Fat Delivered’ has so much in it I would have been pleased to stop there and listen over and over again. The impression of a fluent guitarist in the PHIL MILLER mode and of music heavily redolent of the Canterbury genre’s most explorative groups is striking; overall, like EGG on steroids, with one track ‘Uh,Oh (Lait Supsendu Fermenté)’ sung in French (as you might expect!) by what might pass for a reincarnated NORTHETTES. HATFIELD AND THE NORTH are of course another obvious inspiration, and when the hyperactivity ends and they settle into an appealing melody, CAMEL might qualify as a vague touchpoint; HENRY COW and THE MUFFINS for sure and, indeed Dave Newhouse of that very same band plays horns and woodwinds on three tracks (Also, Guy Segers of UNIVERS ZERO appears on ‘I Cries Crimes’ as one of two bass players!)


So, this shows the kind of direction the music takes, but I must say I have never heard anything quite like it (although I did review them many moons ago and will try to dig that review out for a REDISSCOVERY) and don’t really know what to make of it, finding it captivating and infuriating by turns; the complex rhythms, changing time signatures and melange of musical references (There is an accordion on ‘Papa Norco’ and what sounds like a crazed tango at one point; sitar even appears very briefly). The extent of the shapeshifting might not appeal to everyone and the album might better be taken in small doses, but one thing is for sure: this is one hell of a group of musicians who, if they wanted to which I suspect they do not, produce a more focused album, without compromising their thirsting experimentation.

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