Iconic bands recording new music years after their prime-time is fraught with peril. Recapturing old magic is nigh impossible when every member has inevitably moved on, musically speaking. Only a few succeed.
The Scientists - as in the Salmon-Thewlis-Cowie (Chock)-Sudjovic line-up - have been an off-and-on, reformed concern for years, coming together for occasional festivals or the odd juicy support tour as, and when, members are available. They put together this five-song 12" vinyl EP between Australian shows and released it to promote their first US tour in 2019.
These days, their laboratory is spread over two continents with guitarist Tony Thewlis living in the UK and the rest of the band in Australia, so parts of the recording have been worked up inisolation and stitched together. Knowing how the sausage was made, in this case, doesn't detract from the taste. The EP, and the single (an updated oldie) that goes with it, rocks in its own uniquely primeval way. Completists should note that it was was proceeded by a digital-only single in 2017.
This double A-sided single of new recordings from the reconstituted Scientists, released in time for their recent US tour, is all kinds of wonderful. You could spend hours ruminating about what lineup of the band was/is definitive but you’ll be hard to please if the current configuration of Salmon-Thewlis-Sujdovic-Cowie (nee Chock) doesn’t please.
“Braindead” is an old song re-done and although it dates from a later period, it recalls the sound of the earlier “Blood Red River” with a steak of sustained feedback and fuzzy guitar counterpoint. Kim Salmon and Tony Thewlis sound like they’re having five kinds of fun and the relentless engine room lays down a simple but effective feel. Handclaps add a touch of groove that past productions sometimes sacrificed in pursuit of volume.
“SurvivalSkills” lands the band squarely back into the swamp as Salmon intones grimly over a cauldron of barely muted guitar. It’s more abstract and reminiscent of the 1980s band’s later explorations while in Europe, sans drum machine. “There’s always a cost,” Kim reminds us. In this instance, it’s well worth you putting down your heard-earned and making a beeline for the In The Red website. There's a 12" single with another 7" in the wings, both on the same label.
Kim will be launching that one, a new split solo/Scientists single and his biography, "Nine Parts Water One Part Sand. Kim Salmon And The Formula For Grunge", at Memo Music Hall in St Kilda, Melbourne, on November 9.
The DIY ethos is less a gimmick and more a way of life these days for the 99 percent of musicians not enslaved by a major label. It's either practical, necessary or all too easy to hole up in your bedroom and let those ideas pour out onto a hard drive without someone else calling the shots and charging your own money for it.
There's a defiite upside and also a downside. Rattanson is a case in point.
Rattanson is a one-man garage pop multi-instrumentalist from Sweden and "I'd Much Rather Be With The Noise" is his second album under that name. A former member of powerpo act Fanscene and garage rockers The Rawhides, he's gone solo to focus on his own songs.
Rattanson played all the instruments on his first record, 2017's "Full Scale Shakeability", and also on this one except for drums, for which he recruited Anders Björnlund from the Turpentines and the HiJackers. He'll have a bass player in tow to play the songs live.