ANATA WA SUKKARI TSUKARETE SHIMAI - The Lost Charles Underscore
Anata Wa Sukkarai Tsukarete Shimai, or for convenienceís sake just abbreviated to AWSTS, used to be a collaborative three-piece of three musicians from three different places: Gnomefoam from England, Bunny from Scotland and _ (Underscore) from Japan. As Underscore has gone AWOL and doesnít reply to emails from his bandmates anymore, the two musicians from the British main island decided to continue the project on their own, but the album title The Lost Charles Underscore is definitely a nod to their possibly former band member.
One might think that losing one third of your essence will leave some fatal flaws, but in the case of AWSTS, this didnít happen. Maybe itís the absence of Underscore, but just as possibly the reason of this new albumís excellence lies in the continuing improvement of the two musicians who recently released quite wonderful music as Gnomefoam and Bunny & The Electric Horsemen.
The Lost Charles Underscore is a surprisingly sprawling affair, with twelve tracks clocking in at just under one hour. With lesser bands, this vast length might have deleterious effects, but this duo most of the time manages to come up with really great, gnarly songs, even if occasionally they overindulge a little too much on the endings of their songs. Especially the first half of their new album, which is also, after two EPs and a split release, their first longplayer, is quite close to greatness. The short two minute opener Are You Ready? is a noisy entry which is followed by Drink It Up, a not much longer piece which offers some experimental garage trash located somewhere between Gallon Drunk and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. The guitars are loud and distorted, and the vocals donít stand back in any way. A first highlight comes with Doll, only slightly less noisy but coming therefore with an incredible melody line that recalls the Butthole Surfers during their heyday. One canít blame the duo of lacking diversity when it comes to choosing their sounds: they are as apt on noisy grounds as they are at using strange electronic concoctions. Thread Wire is a more moderate track with a spooky atmosphere that is not unlike some of the Residentsí work. I Can Make Footprints With My Eyes managed to anger me slightly, as the first minute is a psychedelic intro, to be followed by one of the most memorable melodies of all times, just to end much too soon already after three minutes. Backyard also doesnít lack splendid songwriting qualities, but this eight minute tracks would have felt more striking at two minutes less.
The second half of The Lost Charles Underwood canít quite keep up with what preceded, and although there are still occasional moments of greatness, AWSTS indulge here more on their more experimental side. But still, it is astonishing what two guys, living hundreds of miles apart from each other, can accomplish with their instruments and the Internet to send each other files (or does one work on the Cloud these days?).
I have been quite a fan of Gnomefoamís solo work, and also rather liked Bunny & The Electric Horsemen, but their collaboration doesnít really stand back, especially during the first half of the album where the two crazy artists truly excel and psychedelic noise garage trash pop. Everyone tired of the same old crap will most surely find a lot to savour on this grand collaborative record.