Neil Campbell: Blues for Sadneck


Structured Disasters cassette and download

Has Campbell gone Dadrock? Not only does the cover of this cassette on Aylesbury’s Structured Disasters label bear the imprimatur of Bobby Zimmerman’s sable-brush introspection, but the final segment of Side A’s looping, fractious churn seems suddenly into a warbled take on Sir Davey Jones’s Hansa studios Frippertronics, not so much Moss Garden pastoral as murky pop water Hero-ics.

Actually, of course, there’s no chance that Campbell is going to be bothering Noel Gallagher and chums for a slice of bloated Mojo-style comfort rock any time yet (the painting’s a lot bloody better than the cover of Self Portrait too). Blues for Sadneck is as nauseous and psychedelic as you’d want and expect from Campbell, merging the damp ‘shroom quease of a classic Vibracathedral Orchestra workout with the corroded electronic grids of his solo work. There’s even a taste of fellow travellers Ashtray Navigations in the way in which side A’s fret-worrying curlicues squirm across the surface of Campbell’s torn and frayed synth undulations. That whole 25-minute piece has an imbalanced, almost acrid taste that works in its favour, especially as Campbell seems intent on looping and layering his guitars and electronics so densely that each element melts into the other in an abrasive, heat-treated gunge, like ground glass dropped into liquified candle wax. One particular loop retains its identity by virtue of its brainsplitting electrical whine, its shards of voltage power sparking grouchily across the molten flow. And by the time that distinctive guitar lick fades in right at the end, it’s actually more reminiscent of the glam-green worlds of Here Come The Warm Jets, a lush digestif to calm a brain that’s just been rubbed down with sandpaper then dunked in a tumbler of red wine vinegar.

Side B is the fogged mulch to A’s scraping gloop, a blurry, hungover cloud that matches vintage acid folk acoustic plucks and finger-running-up-the-fretboard slides with greyscale hums and smoothed-off fart-clouds. It sounds like the kind of session Robin Williamson and Mike Heron might jam out in a bothy the morning after a night of astral travelling, although the gritty white noise scrunches that scuzz up the laid-back picking suggest the bulldozers might be moving in on the rural paradise. This is some hip mantra… until someone gets bored of chilling out and decides to inject some drama into proceedings, cutting to a trembling bass throb that teeters on the edge of some fantastical abyss while a slide guitar wail arcs out into the void. The guitar has some of Heather Leigh’s terrifying pedal steel noise power, while underneath a blistered low-end loop cycles round, too impatient to act as a sustaining groove, more like a discordant cackle in your lughole. Fortunately, things drop off before my nervous system gives out and we’re almost back to where we started, with a googly-eyed swirl and chug that shines some dayglo waves into the chilly cold. There now. All you needed was a nice cup of tea and a blanket, after all.



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