Fluvster: the Ghost’s Toolbox – album review
Fluvster: the Ghost’s Toolbox (Lost Moment Records)
Spliffed-up trip-hop space-rock experimentals from lone groover on a mission. Ged Babey remembers his hair was fuzzy ….
Whilst artists like to boast about not-fitting into any or transcending all genres and styles … it makes it hard for reviewers to target the audience the artist should be reaching….. because, in this case – I really want people to listen to this…. and ‘dig it’…. because it’s one of those guys who ploughs his own furrow – does it all himself – and is on a personal mission of self-discovery and musical communication…. He is a fuckin’ space cadet perhaps -and like a lot of us, a bit too reliant on his chosen self-medicinal of choice… but it’s up to you to decide whether it enhances or clouds his artistic output.
(New Friend Request – Richard Van Ganjaland (Amsterdam) ….. do I accept or do I delete? There is a clue in the name…..
If you haven’t seen me for about twenty six years or so -after we met and had a rambling conversation in a music venue one night in the 1990’s -then I’m pretty easy to track down in these days of so-shull meed-ya… there is only one Ged Babey. I’m a cult, apparently – though that is probably predictive text for ya.)
The Fluvster was a nice bloke – as far as I remember – when I met him and interviewed the band he was a part of in 1991- young and manic and keen -a dymano with ambition and great big fuzzy Hair Bair Bunch hair – a kinky afro! He was the second lead singer in a band called Bugfish – who were great for the time – a sort of rave meets grunge band: EMF meets Faith No More … kinda…. (I wish it could’ve been something cooler – but he was young, music was in a complete state of flux … indie was becoming mainstream, ‘alternative’ the norm…) Two and a half decades on and the label releasing this second album of his is ‘Lost Moment’ – who I only know from the Alternative TV stuff they’ve released – so he’s fallen in with a good crowd of post-punk experi-mentalists.
The Ghost’s Toolbox takes a few listens to get acclimatized to, to get on the wavelength the Fluvster operates on – but it is an engrossing, flowing work which is free of all the usual constraints; length; verse/chorus structure… it’s neither dance music, nor rock music, nor is it avant-garde arsing about…. there is a core of political protest but it is wrapped in layers of stoned-groove and free-form music. (Regular readers of mine will know I would usually dismiss this kind of stuff with an unkind ‘Hippyshit’…but this does have ‘content’ and intent… ) This is a One-Man-Psychedelic-self-expression thing – with a who-gives-a-fuck, Free festival vibe -which of course Mark Perry and Alternative TV allied themselves with…
I asked Richard about the label and if the album is all, just him?
It’s on Steve Carters label, he is a former bass-player with Alternative TV… . On the album I was joined by Chriz Van Jaarsveld of Sleeze Beez on lead guitar on the track called Dead Meat… and Fren Delique (my girlfriend) played a few synths on Strandjutter and Flock and did samples on those tracks (we also perform as a duo called Square Darlic) …. but, yep I played all the other instruments!
On his previous album (still available from here) the brilliantly titled Misleading Sense of Euphoria, released under the name Fluvster and the Spliffed Personalities. the band line up was listed as “Dick Van Hemel on keys – Ant Agonist on bass – Spliffed Richard – Vox / guitar – Richard Van Ganjaland on drums” but they were all actually the Fluvster himself under aliases.
But the spooky, kooky, all-together ooky delights of the Ghosts Toolbox go something, like this…
The opening track ‘Welcome To Dover’ begins the album with a nice piece of jumbled positivity. ‘Sing A Song Of Freedom’. African voices are sampled. Four-leaf-clovers mentioned. It is presumably a welcome to refugees arriving on these shores via the port. It has the feel of a jam. A Plastic Ono Band meets latter-period ATV style.
‘Flock’ is is vibey instrumental which puts me in the mind of Death In Vegas ‘Dirge’ . ‘Ride Your Demons’ really gets its shit together and sounds like a cross between the Stone Roses and Public Image Ltd with a weird echo of Syd Barrett in the vocal somehow. It is great ‘stoner’ track with that hint of comedown paranoia – a theme which develops as the album progresses.
‘Sad People’ is the weakest track to my mind…a bit too paranoid and wibbly-wobbly.
The titular character in ‘Little Pushy Boy (Inspect Yourself)’ seems to be Blair and the song calls upon the United Nations to inspect itself apropos its core aims of protecting life and keeping (the) peace. Richards vocal on this and the next track have a punk-type sneer in them, which I like, but the vibe is getting darker…
‘Universal War Machine’ has an insistent groove. There’s a palpable tension and the smokers apathy is replaced with a literal ‘why don’t you fuck off…’ anger ( an energy!)
Dead Meat is Portishead-type trip-hop spy theme territory with metal-noodling virtuoso guitar accompaniment.
Strandjutter is a moody instrumental with that paranoid feeling of dread captured within its vibes.
The 8 minute Monster Bled is possibly the albums piece de resistance – a lyric mantra about the zombie in my head and a grunge guitar krautrock nursery rhyme which will not help you sleep at night.
It is an album that takes you on a journey, thematically and musically – there are dub and krautrock touches and only a stoner-funky-drummer beat appearing a bit too often holds it back. I do think the Fluvster needs a sympathetic collaborator to be honest – to tighten things up a touch but this press release for his previous album makes a good case for the artist known as…
Fluvster AKA Richard Van Ganjaland is an eccentric English musician living in Amsterdam – for a decade he spent a lot of the time on the streets as a street musician – 10 years ago he set up a studio – Social Dreg Records and has since recorded many underground acts including Square Darlic and Zupagnome – he is now a multi instrumentalist and has delivered this solo album playing all the instruments (apart from the occasional synth by Fren Delique). He refuses to fall into any stereotype – songs are delivered towards the atmosphere of the lyrical content which is always reflective and usually humourous – he has often played around the UK at underground festivals and raves and all over the Netherlands at clubs and squats.
Here is a video for a track from the old album ….
It’s definitely worth checking out the Fluvster if you feel some kinship and like the idea of a hippy-punk groover doing it in his own idiosyncratic way …. sticking it to the man, a toker/joker who is a genuine alternative to pre-packed, shrink-wrapped rebellion without a clue.
All words by Ged Babey