Some new reviews of mine (of older releases) appeared today at Swingset. The first one is of the recent 2CD retrospective of the Shadow Ring, one of my favorite bands of all time:
There’s no getting around the inherent difficulty posed by the music of the Shadow Ring, one of the UK’s most obscure, yet most rewarding bands of the past decade. Ironically, what makes their music difficult is its complete simplicity. Home Counties chums Graham Lambkin and Darren Harris (with later member, Tim Goss) outlined their early musical approach most succinctly in their 1994 album Put the Music In Its Coffin, whose title spells out the distinctly amateur (yet not “amateurish”) nature of their scrapes, wheezes, and plain-spoken lyrics regarding mundane topics concerning “Wash What You Eat,” “Rats & Mice,” and “Prawnography.” Later, after Lambkin moved to the United States and the group’s activities became even more difficult to sustain, the Shadow Ring embarked on an exploration of long drones and slowed-down vocals, on such releases such as 2001’s Lindus and their final album, I’m Some Songs. Despite the change in direction, the simplicity of The Shadow Ring’s music retained its power.
Life Review (1993-2003) is a 2-cd set that documents all phases of the band, and is an excellent starting point for those unfamiliar, but willing to brave their deeply strange waters. As most of their initial releases are out-of-print (and will likely remain that way), it’s fantastic that such an unlikely collection exists, including not only classic Shadow Ring “numbers” such as “Tiny Creatures,” “Horse Meat Cakes” but also unheard charms such as “Stella Drive,” their shambolic live reinterpretation of Pink Floyd’s “Interstellar Overdrive.”
Buy it at Fusetron.