REVIEW: Lilac Ambush – “Four Stories”

By JHR

Chain Border

Four StoriesHere we go with another four slices of quality post-punk from those fine chaps over at Lilac Ambush. This one's called the Four Stories EP and it's... Really quite splendid.

Proceedings are kicked off by a track that goes by the unprepossessing name of Unreal. 'Driving' would be a good word to describe it. 'Minty' wouldn't. There are guitars, played very loudly in the next room who likes listening to The Janitors and Wire at the same time. There are also two sets of synths battling for supremacy. In the red corner we find a noise not unlike one used by both Joey Beltram and Reel2Reel (feat. The Mad Stuntman) – a kind of off-kilter rorty bass. In the blue corner there's a very 80s squeaky-choral noise that was last seen hiding behind the drumkit in a Pseudo Echo record. The match is refereed by something that sounds breathy and DX7ish. As luck would have it, wildly crunching guitar fellow wanders in from the next room, HH combo amp in tow and talks some much needed sense into all the participants.

Need Versus Want rattles along in similar vein, but the synths are still talking through their differences and seem unable to participate fully in the recording process. Though they do find time to contribute some spooky distant-planet-where-terrible-things-happen atmospherics. There's something odd about this track. As if it had been under the malign influence of Factory Records (Thailand) – if indeed the chaps at Factory had got around to opening an Asian outpost. Well, other than Factory Australia.

Endless Dawn is the sound of a terribly successful experiment with Yazoo and New Order synth and guitar lines played by people with pork-pie hats. It joins Unreal in the notional called 'Songs which damn well ought to be sold gold floor-fillers in any right-thinking universe.' Even if the main riff sounds somewhat like the Velvet Underground. Not that this is a bad thing, by any stretch of the imagination. It just brings to mind a different VU who'd got it together in Basildon in 1982 and were given to helping out in the local home-computer shop on Saturday mornings, rather than lurching about with some bewigged dwarf whilst in the grip of terrible narcotic fugues.

We finish with Summer's Problem which is a lot more reflective. In a very odd way that brings to mind anechoic chambers and the ICI plant in Chester. Which leads me conveniently, in a semi-industrial and collective farm manner, to passing comment on the sleeve of this fine recording. It is splendidly Soviet Constructivist in manner and just about Entirely Correct. I would have expected sleevenotes along the lines of "Comrades! Fraternal greetings from the Young Pioneers Socialist Beat Collective number seventeen! Together we will push forward the shining boundaries of anti-imperialist post-punk – an ever-correct and iron-forged weapon in the hands of the progressive peoples everywhere! Death to the imperialist running-dogs of rap-metal!" But I suspect you could only get away with that sort of thing on the more enlightened side of the Atlantic.

Hey ho. Good stuff once again from the Lilacs (or are they known as 'the Ambush' to their friends? I should be quite pleased to find out.) and another corking EP that's well worth the money. Unless they want 900 quid for it, in which case they're avin' a right larf, as they say in dreadful mockney heist films.

Contact Information:
Post: Twisted Spinach, PO Box 2053, Gloucester, MA, 01931-2053
Phone: (978) 397-2562
Web: www.lilacambush.com

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