(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

Rock It To The Moon (2001), 7.5/10
The Power Out (2004), 6.5/10
Axes (2005), 6/10
No Shouts No Calls (2007) , 5.5/10

Electrelane is an all-girl group from England formed around multi-instrumentalist Verity Susman that originally specialized in instrumental music propelled by pounding, hypnotic rhythm a` la Velvet Underground or Neu, as documented by the singles Film Music (Indenial, 2000), Le Song (Fierce Panda, 2000) and Gabriel (Let's Rock, 2000). The latter epitomizes their habit of shifting gear suddenly, without any warning, from a calm acoustic guitar meditation to a devilish hyper-kinetic organ dance.

Replacing the original guitarist with Mia Clarke, the quartet recorded the album Rock It To The Moon (Let's Rock, 2001 - Too Pure, 2005) and the EP I Want To Be The President (2002). They revelead an instrumental sound grounded in the icy symmetry of German avant-rock of the 1970s and in the unstable aesthetic of post-rock. In a typical case of musical equivalent of split-brain syndrome, the propulsive side of the band competes with the disturbing soundscapes of its contemplative side. Thus The Invisible Dog indulges in new-age languor before launching in a wild rave-up. Blue Straggler does the opposite, spinning virulent and irresistible around a looping keyboard riff before imploding into a paradisiac quiet with angelic choirs. Nothing could be more misleading than the chamber music for piano and strings that opens Many Peaks, soon devoured by a multi-layered maelstrom. The nine-minute U.O.R. consolidates the praxis, by following a furious punk-rock orgies with a dilated psychedelic agony. The retro sound of the keyboards is the proverbial cherry on the pie. Film Music is basically a set of organ variations on stereotypes of Sixties' movie soundtracks. Le Song sounds like a dementially accelerated bubblegum novelty of the same age. Electrelane does not make it the core of its art, but this retro/revivalist element alone would justify their existence. Just under two minutes long, Spartakiade is a massive riff-based garage dance, replete with hand clapping and voodoo beat.
Electrelane's wild imagination triumphs with the ten-minute fantasia Long Dark: propulsive pseudo-surf guitar riff a` la Fleshtones, shrill organ, pounding drums, and grand frantic finale of high-pitched keyboard including an atonal remix of Gershon Kingsley's Pop Corn. The band closes the album with the colossal tour de force of Mother, a breakneck boogie pulsation dotted with dissonances that stands as their equivalent of the Velvet Underground's Sister Ray and transcends their own principles.

Susman became a full-fledged vocalist on The Power Out (Too Pure, 2004), which is a collection of more regular songs. The vocals actually steal the show in a few cases. Nico's ghost looms over Gone Under Sea, lulled by minimalist guitar strumming. The Valleys is a novelty built around goofy vocal harmonies that mix 1950s' barber style and medieval liturgy. This Deed is a gothic whisper that surges in a solemn scream.
On the other hand, On Parade is more typical of their rhythmic experiments, a syncopated surf-ska "locomotive". So is Take The Bit Between Your Teeth, a demonic voodoobilly with echoes of Creedence Clearwater Revival. A disco beat a` la B52's surfaces in Only One Thing Is Needed, graced by a wonderful instrumental coda.
Susman's erudite lieder can also avail themselves of atmospheric arrangements. Minimalist repetition and resonance fills the ambience of Oh Sombra!. Despite Susman's plain register, her vocals are a welcome addition to the band's disturbing sound. The organ-driven crescendo Love Builds Up and the neoclassical piano sonata You Make Me Weak At The Knees are the last remnants of their all-instrumental art.

Verity Susman is even more in command of Axes (Too Pure, 2005), recorded with Ros Murray on bass, and the Neu influence is even stronger. The drawback of the album is precisely that almost every track sounds like a Neu tribute (with the exception of a few pensive moments). The generally more instrumental and conceptual compositions give the album a somewhat starker and icier atmoshere that is probably worth more than the compositions themselves. The majestic Two For Joy, the frantic Bells, the gypsy hoedown of Eight Steps and the atonal vignette of Business Or Otherwise are mere appetizers. Then come the seven-minute blues for obsessive guitar strumming and train whistle Gone Darker, and the ten-minute stylistic collage Suitcase (from piano sonata to a choral ending that is reminiscent, in structure if not in melody, of the Rolling Stones' You Can't Always Get What You Want).

No Shouts No Calls (Too Pure, 2007) continued the schizophrenia of the group between instrumental and sung music, returning to the latter (notably the single To the East) at the expense of the former (despite Between the Wolf and the Dog).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Paolo Latini)

Electrelane è un quartetto femminile di provenienza inglese, formate attorno alla multi-strumentista Verity Susman, specializzato in musica strumentale costruita su ritmiche persistenti ed ipnotiche à la Velvet Underground, come documentato dai singoli Film Music (Indenial, 2000), Le Song (Fierce Panda, 2000) e Gabriel (Let's Rock, 2000). Rimpiazzata la chitarrista della prima formazione con Mia Clarke, il quartetto ha registrato l'album Rock It To The Moon (Let's Rock, 2001) e l'EP I Want To Be The President (2002).

Susman diventa una vocalist a pieno titolo con The Power Out (Too Pure, 2004), che è una raccolta di canzonin più convenzionali. In realtà ruba la scena in poche occasioni. Lo spettro di Nico aleggia su Gone Under Sea, cullata da uno strimpellio minimalista di chitarra. The Valleys è una novelty costruita attorno a sciocche armonie vocali che mixano le armonie da "barbershop" degli anni '50 con le liturgie medievali. This Deed è un lamento gotico che si gonfia in un solenne urlo.
D'altra parte, On Parade è più consistente con i loro esperimenti ritmici, una "locomotive" surf-ska sincopata. Così è Take The Bit Between Your Teeth, un demonico voodoobilly con echi di Creedence Clearwater Revival. Un ritmo disco à la B52's traspare in Only One Thing Is Needed, aggrazziata da una meravigliosa coda strumentale.
I lieder eruditi della Susman potrebbero anche avvalersi di arrangiamenti atmosferici. Ripetizioni minimaliste e risonanze riempiono l'ambience di Oh Sombra!. Nonostante il registro lamentoso, la voce della Susman è una buona addizione al suono disturbante del gruppo. Il crescendo di organo di Love Builds Up e la sonata pianistica neoclassica You Make Me Weak At The Knees sono almeno rimasugli della loro arte strumentale.

(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
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