Grandmaster Gareth: Magical Sound Shower – album reviewGrandmaster Gareth – Magical Sound Shower (GM Sounds)

LP/CD/DL

24 June 2013

9.5/10

Once described as ‘the new God’ by a certain John Peel, Louder Than Wars Paul Scott-Bates couldn’t resist a listen to the new Grandmaster Gareth album.

If John Peel’s statement is true then this is the album for the pop atheist.

There are so many sounds on this album it’s easy to see why it was seven years in the making. Gareth, (or should we call him The Grandmaster?) takes influence from pulp sci-fi books and B-movies amongst other things, and the result is an incredible trip through a musical Technicolor landscape.

An apple crunches, birds sing, children cry.

This album is fun, fun, fun; but it’s also well constructed, intelligent pop music. It doesn’t drag on forever and ever, it gives short, sharp, sound bursts which keep a listener enthralled. It’s well-timed, well executed & it’s brilliantly done, bordering on genius in fact.

There are different moods and different textures. There’s a hint of Grandmaster Flash and White Lines to I Am Garzuvius. The Hoarder Of Moments is low key and subtle, and is followed by ten seconds of madness in the shape of Magical Cuts, which is basically instruments made to sound out of tune. There’s a children’s TV programme in a Blue Peter vain on one track which provides sound bytes of what sounds like jelly making on Don’t Grumble Under Pressure sounding almost pornographic with the innuendo voiceover ‘wobbles’. A Stephen Hawking styled voice says the words of the album title to close the track.

There are space age doom sound effects throughout the album with musical imagery of space-age comics. Possible clips from Sega and Nintendo arcade games of the 80s bind together the Mario influenced The Bigger The Bass Line / The Bigger The Waistline over a crunching drum beat.

A dog barks and Stephen Hawking returns to tell us not to buy this album.

Track after track of weird and wonderful sounds and beautifully put together bits of music bouncing, crashing and making you think. Absolutely glorious. This is probably where all those great BBC Sound Effects albums were heading, the ones that as a teenager I played in their entirely like a conventional album. Yeah, call me a weirdo for adding excerpts of them into my taped Top 40 compilations!

A machete being brandished.

There’s great percussion on the brash, in your face The Nobelisk, which has distortion galore and certainly isn’t as poppy as its predecessors. There’s even a viola chucked in somewhere and some great post dub effects which rival last years album from label mate D.E.A.D. Slowly whirring and trickling along is Watch Your Step, complete with children’s voice and a Sesame Street parody. If there’s a downfall to the album, it’s that you really need to listen to it as a whole rather than being able to pick out individual tracks, it’s a project if you will, an epic extravaganza that deserves to be appreciated in its entirety.

Cue voices of the Minions from the Despicable Me movie?

Freestyle jazz with frenetic percussion on I Eat Dogs, Why Not People? and CBeebies from grown-ups on The Dewormer. Don’t be fooled, it’s not a twee album, it’s done in an incredibly original way.

A scream, Big Ben chimes and a merry-go-round.

Angelic Church voices and a cartoon factory production line.

The title track tips a wink in the direction of Red River Rock by Johnny & The Hurricanes or early OMD before an untitled and unaccredited twentieth track (yes, count them!) merely exclaims “Did You Wobble?”.

You really should own this album.

You can find out more about Grandmaster Gareth on the GM Sounds website here.

All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found here. Paul’s website is hiapop Blog. Paul is working hard to save Radio Lancashire’s On The Wire, the BBCs longest running alternative music programme. Follow him on twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news or follow hiapop Blog on Twitter, @hiapop.

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