Well I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m right royally pissed off with not being able to go to gigs. It’s been over a year now and it looks like being months before they can finally happen again. I’ve tried the live streaming thing and for me it just isn’t the same… there’s no atmosphere and my wife seems very opposed to me pouring beer on the carpet to get that ‘sticky floor’ feeling.
It is true that there are some very good live albums out there, I have particularly enjoyed the releases of the Kraftwerk gig in Soest, and The Stooges Live at Goose Lake, both of which came out on vinyl last year. These are both visceral in their own ways and, perhaps weirdly, both could be said to represent bands who are antecedents to Italian psych/ punk/ krautrock band ‘a/lpaca’.
However, the similarities do not end there, because if there was one word that I would use to describe this, their new album ‘Make It Better’, it is visceral. What is more, the band are aiming for the vibe of a 60s Beat Club that would be formative for both Kraftwerk and The Stooges. Of course most of us could not verify the accuracy of what the band have created here, but what I would say that this is one of the most exciting and raw albums that I have heard recently and, at this time of lockdown, the first record that has made me want to go out and buy a projector and some oil to recreate the psychedelic visuals that were prevalent at the time.
Let’s just step back for a moment though, because I wouldn’t want to give the impression that this album was a once trick pony that faithfully recreated any particular sound… I would hope that this was clear in my inclusion of Kraftwerk and The Stooges… because this is also a very nuanced album when you get behind the absolutely relentless beat that just keeps going throughout this record. That is because when you mine deeper into these tracks you uncover all sorts of subtleties that might not be immediately apparent.
Even the beat itself, while always there, is not always the same… one minute you are driving down the autobahn, while the next you’re heading into some sort of psychedelic headspace with Barrett’s Floyd… one minute it’s the ‘one two three four’ of punk, before experiencing the intellectual intensity of Can’s Jaki Liebezeit. In other words, this is the sort of set which will keep you guessing as you progress through it.
But, above all, this is an album to groove to… turn down the lights and just let yourself go to it because it has that joie de vivre that is infectious… it is the sort of album that is just a joy to listen to, having that great duality of being both interesting and fun… so just leave your worries at the the door, construct your own Beat Club in your mind, close your eyes and just let yourself go… it might not be quite the same as going to a gig but it’s the closest I’ve come in the last year.
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