CD Review

Red20 – “Misled But Not Dead”


Misled But Not DeadIt seems I've been listening to the sound of angry young Sheffield ever since I was forcibly acquainted with the Peel Programme over twenty years ago. There was a long period where the only music worth listening to came from Sheffield, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Sydney and Chicago and the mood of all the good films seemed to be as grim, noisy and damp as a rainy night in any of those places.

And indeed this begins with Arabic-influenced noises reminiscent of the opening of Bladerunner – we're in the strange rainswept and neon-lit interzone where you can buy both Korean knock-offs of Malaysian active tattoos that cycle through some J-Pop video, and a bag of chips with curry sauce.

Then there is MeTaL guitar and distorted ranting vox. We could be listening to any INDUSTRAIL(tm) band on the planet, but for two crucial differences. The guitar is very much in the style of the godlike Santiago Durango and the bits where the drum-machine takes a solo are all thunderous breakbeats. If this is INDUSTRAIL(tm), then it's been off mixing with angry post-punks, paying attention to the sounds coming from the cars of passing rice-boys and generally knocking around with some random and unsavoury characters, rather than just going down the mall and mithering about outside Hot Topic.

The track named Misled could well be the call-to-prayer of some post-apocalyptic machine culture. I don't know where or when this album comes from – somewhere along the axis marked by the line on the map between Berlin and Sheffield, but at an angle to the reality that we understand. There, the vehicles are all fuel-cell/biofuel hybrid V8s with all-wheel drive and uniform paintjobs of grey and rust. The best places to live are ex-government bunkers or isolated farms. The worst places are the cities. No one but the useless or desperate would live any place where there's so little scope for managing your own affairs since there is no system anymore. (Hm. Sounds like some awful libertarian paradise. We'll have no more of that.)

The track I'm listening to now should rightly be called 'Chorus for human air-raid sirens.' An interesting and Futurist concept. And now they've wired the guitar amps into a three-phase supply and they're making great Tesla-feedback noises while jumping up and down on a howling Steve Vai solo. A truly excellent noise that ends far too soon. "GRAAAAAAARK! Widdywiddlywiddly! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! GROOOOOAAAAARK!" it went. Lovely. Oh, and now they've taped up the solo in a box and shot it into space. A most enterprising solution to the problem of global guitar-solo pollution.

Unfortunately the solo plummets to earth and uncovers the remains of a robot Gary Clail that had been buried in a time-capsule from 1988. Through some mischance the zombie robot is reanimated and wanders the countryside rapping in a distracted manner about sprockets and Ford Cortinas and dragging a clanking guitar accompaniment behind it on a length of chain. After a number of adventures, the zombie robot is cornered in a rubber bass guitar factory where it annoys its alleged captors by flinging itself about the place in a tuneful manner and waving the chained guitar solo about its head.

An excellent way to end a CD. (Were it not for an extra and unlabelled track which explores the new subgenre called 'sweary-loungecore.')

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