Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lemon Kittens - We Buy A Hammer For Daddy (1980)

This is a profoundly weird record, and one I find very enjoyable. The closest thing I can compare it to is a less abrasive Art Bears with elements of free jazz. The band is comprised of only two members, Karl Blake and Danielle Dax. Neither of them can really play an instrument or sing, but that doesn't stop them from making some fine music, and not just of the "banging away noisy" variety. Indeed, they appear to make a sincere effort to construct actual compositions, albeit with limited technical ability. I would venture so far as to say that there is little to no improvization, which is a refreshing change for this sort of music.

The result is a lot of songs structured around simple ostinatos, with vocals recited rather than sung, mainly by the cool, disconnected voice of Dax. The sound palette here is impressively broad. Guitars are used sparingly, and over the course of the record we hear bass, piano, saxophone, electronics, flute, harpsichord, concertina, vibraphone, multiple types of hand drums, chriping birds and various other brass and woodwind intruments difficult to identify due to their inexpert playing.

The tone of the album ranges from hysterical to almost ambient, with lyrics that become increasingly bizarre as the album progresses. The opening track "P.V.S." feels like beat poetry over an almost funky electric bass line. ot too bizarre, but the next track, "Small Mercies," has Dax tearfully confesing details about an abusive relationship, while somehow managing to be funny. By the time we get to the halfway mark, Blake is droning the line "Afraid of Being Bled by Leeches" over a flute-dominated backdrop.

Truly a delight to the collector the odd music, you are unlikely to find anything else that sounds quite like this.

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