Young Marble Giants

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Colossal Youth (1980), 7/10 Links:

(Translated from my old Italian text by Nicholas Green)

In the late 1970s, Alison Statton was a simple and unassuming singer, totally uninvolved in the punk-rock frenzies, psychedelic delusions, and provocative posturing of those years. She revealed herself to the public as part of the Young Marble Giants, formed as a trio of bass, vocals and Farfisa organ on the initiative of guitarist Stuart Moxham. The group was singular in the revival scene because it favored soft, spare muted music, with Statton's little voice in the foreground crooning an anemic singsong against a backdrop of naive rhythms and harmonics.

Their first and only album, Colossal Youth (Rough Trade, 1980 - Les Disques du Crépuscule, 2003), contains sparse tracks in which one hears echoes of fatalistic Parisian café songs (Searching For Mr. Right); surf timbres, folk ballads and Morricone (the instrumental Taxi); samba and Joni Mitchell (Eating Noddemix); tango and street pianos (The Man Amplifier); The Shadows and rumba (Choci Loni); garage rock and exotic lullabies (Colossal Youth); or, on the more aggressive tracks, echoes of rhythm and blues and country (Include Me Out); rockabilly and Duane Eddy (Constantly Changing); hard rock, samba and Gregorian mass (N.I.T.A.); hard rock and funk (Music For Evenings); and boogie and pop (Brand New Life); remixed in every possible combination. Young Marble Giants evokes (perhaps unintentionally) the ambience of 1950s beatniks, linking them to the experiments of Brian Eno and Robert Fripp.

After that album and two EPs (Final Day and the instrumental Testcard), Alison Statton became the frontwoman of many different musical projects, while the remaining members formed Gist.

The same fragile pop is pervasive on Gist's album, Embrace The Herd (Rough Trade, 1983), particularly on Love At First Sight, and on Stuart Moxham's solo albums, all in the spirit of Burt Bacharach : Signal Path (Feel Good All Over, 1992, credited to Stuart Moxham & the Original Artists) featuring Knives (Always Fall), Random Rules (Peak, 1993), and Cars In The Grass (Feel Good All Over, 1994). If anything, Random Rules (Peak, 1993) was the album that brought him back to the heights of his earlier career. On Fine Tuning (Feel Good All Over, 1995) he recorded new versions of his old classics.

Alla fine degli anni '70 Alison Statton era una cantante semplice e dimessa, del tutto estranea alla foga del punk-rock, ai deliri lisergici e alle pose provocanti di quegli anni. Si rivelo` negli Young Marble Giants, nati come trio di basso, voce e organo Farfisa per iniziativa del chitarrista Stuart Moxham. Il gruppo era singolare nel panorama del rinnovamento perche' prediligeva una musica tenera e scarna in sordina, con la vocina di Statton in primo piano a canticchiare filastrocche anemiche su uno sfondo di ritmiche e armoniche naif.

Il primo e unico album, Colossal Youth (RoughTrade, 1980 - Les Disques du Crepuscule, 2003), contiene esili brani nei quali si sentono echi di canzoni fatali da cafe` parigino (Searching For Mr Right), di timbriche surf, ballate folk e Morricone (lo strumentale Taxi), di samba e Joni Mitchell (Eating Noddemix), di tango e pianole di strada (Man Amplifier) di Shadows e rumba (Choci Loni), di garage-rock e ninnananne esotiche (Colossal Youth), oppure, in quelli piu` aggressivi, echi di rhythm and blues e country and western (Include Me Out), di rockabilly e Duan Eddy (Constantly Changing), di hard rock, samba e messa gregoriana (NITA), di hard rock e funk (Music For Evenings), di boogie e pop (Brand New Life), rimescolati in tutte le combinazioni possibili. Gli Young Marble Giants rievocano, forse involontariamente, le atmosfere dei beatnik degli anni '50, raccordandole agli esperimenti di Brian Eno e Robert Fripp.

Dopo quell'album e due singoli (Final DAy e lo strumentale Testcard) i gregari si trasformano in Gist, mentre Alison Statton divenne protagonista di diverse vicende musicali.

Lo stesso pop fragile permea l'album dei Gist, Embrace The Herd (Rough Trade, 1983), in particolare Love at First Sight, e gli album solisti di Stuart Moxham, tutti all'insegna di Burt Bacharach: Signal Path (Feel Good All Over, 1992), con Knives, Random Rules (Peak, 1993) e Cars In The Grass (Feel Good All Over, 1994). Semmai Random Rules (Peak) lo ha riportato alle vette della sua carriera. Su Fine Tuning (Feel Good All Over, 1995) ha registrato nuove versioni dei suoi vecchi classici.

Colossal Youth & Collected Works (Domino, 2007) is a triple-disc compilation of the classic album plus Ode To Booker T from a 1979 compilation, a "Peel Session" from 1980, the EP Testcard (1981), the single Final Day (1981), and Salad Days (2000).

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