Monday, 26 July 2010

The Clientele: Minotaur

(Pointy Records)

Paul Verlaine binge-drank absinthe, shot his lover Arthur Rimbaud in the wrist, and wrote decadent symbolist poetry. Although rhyming his name with ‘cracks like porcelain’ is pretty neat, the cosmic dreaminess of Clientele’s ‘Paul Verlaine’ has little fin de siècle darkness and no flowers of evil. Here, the night brings only jasmine on the breeze. And some of the most sublime harmonies in the space-time continuum (verified by Hubble), which blows as light as thistledown. These Hampshire bookshop Casanovas started out with 2000’s ‘Suburban Light’, a compilation of earlier singles. Their debut proper ‘The Violet Hour’ (2003) lifts its title from TS Eliot’s ‘Waste Land’, thereby enforcing a certain literary provenance. ‘Strange Geometry’ (2005) was a step forward. Until the nucleus of Alasdair MacLean, drummer Mark Keen and bassist James Hornsey was expanded by Mel Draisey’s violin in time for ‘God Save The Clientele’ (2007), recorded in Nashville. ‘Bonfires On The Heath’ followed last year. Although this thirty-minute mini-album forms something of a stop-gap ‘Minotaur’s diversified focus allows space for the 1.49-min ‘No.33’, a stately pseudo-classical piano piece with concentrated swirls of magnetism. And ‘The Green Man’ plugs into rural myth for ancient prose-poem games of darkly beautiful ambiguity where moments of hyper-awareness make the world one-degree stranger, erudite, borderline mystical, and enriched with the dust of 1978. Enhanced by the sonic colour of hushed effects, even a vocal stumble stays in. ‘Gerry’ accelerates into something like a ‘Marquee Moon’ build (another Verlaine?), while ‘Minotaur’ itself is atmospheric acoustica spaced with the kind of breathy hooks last heard from Scritti Politti’s Green Gartside. Why does MacLean portray himself as the mythological half-bull waiting for some Theseus to come and slay him? And wasn’t ‘Minotaure’ also the name of a Surrealist magazine edited by Andrè Breton? Such lyrical precision is replicated in ‘As The World Rises And Falls’ where ‘he stands about forty metres away’, not thirty, not forty-three, but forty. Paul Verlaine had attention to detail issues. And that’s pretty neat too...

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