Split LP - The Bevis Frond & Fraudband (Kasumuen Records)
It’s a split 12” LP. Five tracks one side, one track on the other. Which is a great idea; two bands showcase themselves for half the price of the vinyl. Yes, it’s vinyl. More bands should do this.
Fraudband are a secretive bunch; you don’t really know their names, ages, or what their favourite colour is, whether they’re hipsters from Pillockville, young WTFs from the stale burbs or leathery old farts in those vile brown leather jackets which were so in among the more money than taste twats in 1986. Fraudband (brilliant name, I’m sure you’ll agree) want their music to speak to us.
Fraudband’s first song here is "Confuse Me", which takes a completely new turn from the things we’ve heard before, a bass (I think) intro half-drone half something, with a scattergun drum. And then things speed up. Very, very few outfits can do stuff which effortlessly straddles so many genres as Fraudband. It doesn’t take long before we’re dancing, faster and faster. They remind me of the Laughing Clowns and, of course, sound nothing like them. Even Can. But again… nothing like them. They’re so damn diverse I expect they’re probably hardcore Def Leppard fans, and have never heard the j**z word in their lives. By God, they’re good.
Their second song is "Little Joys", a little more rocknrolly in the beginning, then comes a delicate exploration of human consciousness which will take you to a rainy beach and back, having enjoyed yourself without meaning to. Lovely control of what used to be called "leakage"…
Their last track is longer than the first two; "Getting Up", could be about anything, from those early morning blues (my instant thoughtpicture) to deciding whether or not to run for the Senate (always a difficult decision). "Getting Up" works from a rather stern, squealy, brrr-ing blues jam, and lunges forward with a specific aim. While I dislike what’s called "sweet blues", there’s a charming element in the ugliness here.
"On a Rant" finds the band working over a riff, stepping back to discover silence and plunging back in again. These striking platforms they’re working off are familiar, but that’s not the point. It’s where everything else goes - particularly the guitar, which expresses patience and works behind the rhythm section with great patience and considerable prettiness.
"Losing It" features some familiar high-end control of leakage which the rhythm section snap and growl around like grumpy pigdogs. It’s a grand, groovy, compelling piece. There’s always something new in a Fraudband track; they hold your attention for weeks after you last played them. Where they’re coming from I have no idea. File under F for Fucking Awesome. The song’s structures aren’t like a band wanting a singer, by the by, they’re working for their own entertainment, each section of the song flowing like water over stones with a peculiar internal chuckle. You don’t want or need a singer. They’re always on about their hair anyway.
Fraudband, new songs, what’s to stop you? Get this record now.
The Bevis Frond, for whom I was absent when they were a thing, are the other side. So I can only listen without context. Which I like to do anyway. Their song, "Vertigo Eyes", is extraordinary, huge, brutality restrained and delicate. It’s also over 20 minutes, a carefully constructed, rising, falling beast which reminds me of seasickness and vomit and that first boat ride across the ocean to get to Australia. Brilliant opening, by the by.
I don’t know who the guitarist is, but they’re located in a certain genre which… no, I’m sorry, overall I don’t like it. Bugger the genre. I’ll bet the Bevis Frond are bloody moving live, but… no, the guitarist, where he’s drawing his inspiration from, I don’t like it.
However. The number of bands which have guitarists who play like this (and are violently popular) is legion and, as we keep getting reminded at elections these days, we in the West (well, we’re so far west in Australia we’re actually in the east but never mind that) live in democracies.
- Fraudband side
- Bevin Frond side