Jez Kerr “Numb Mouth Eat Waste” – Album review

Jez Kerr “Numb Mouth Eat Waste”
Higuera Records
CD ”“ Available 12th September 2011 (via Cargo)

Jez Kerr is a musician with a weighty and well respected back catalogue; way back in 1977 with three friends Simon Topping, Peter Terrell and Martin Moscrop formed the now legendary A Certain Ratio ”“ ACR were signed to the then fledgling Factory Records a label they remained with the majority of their career, only at the end signing to Rob’s Records which itself was intrinsically linked to Factory.
ACR are perhaps best known for groundbreaking classics “Shack Up”, “Won’t Stop Loving You”, “Good Together” and “27 Forever” – today they remain in demand, Soul Jazz Records being responsible for re-releasing each of their albums and keeping ACR on decks of the most discerning listener, add to this selected pan European festival appearances and you wonder were Kerr found the time to record this his first solo release.

Kerr however was evidently not prepared to rest on his laurels, the result of his efforts being a collection of songs that draw influence more from his punk roots than upon the polish of later day ACR.
Kerr via tiny Welsh indie Higuera Records initially released a digital only single “Play Sumthing Fast” ”“ a joyous release powered by a motorik beat courtesy of Vinnie Cassidy (Section 25) with subtle distorted guitar and a gentle even restrained vocal; this was later followed in May 2011 by further single “Rip You Right Back” which opens “Numb Mouth Eat Waste” with a throbbing bowel rumbling bass that should be troubling the nations dance floors this very weekend ”“ Kerr was joined by a further selection of friends for the recording of the album, Corinne Drewery (Swing Out Sister) provides backing vocals on the beautiful ”˜And Gone’, whilst Si Wolstencroft (The Fall) keeps time on the bass heavy ”˜Sum Space’

The aforementioned “Play Sumthing Fast” is followed by “Reason I Feel Like An Alien” perhaps the most ACR-ish track on the album, though not the most instantly accessible. “No Left Shoe” is more up tempo with Kerr’s voice being electronically treated sounding at times like Cabaret Voltaire circa ”˜Microphonies’

Whilst clearly displaying his ACR post-punk funk, Kerr has stripped the tracks back to the basics, but most crucially Kerr has been able to retain a welcome degree of warmth, the album at times is sparse, but this allows the instruments space and its in these spaces that we hear further influences of Kraftwerk, and Can.

The beauty of “Numb Mouth Eat Waste” is its refusal to be defined; the contrast in the tracks ”“ jazz tinged funk, electronica, heavy bass, all held together with a taut stripped down beat and then overlaid with Kerr’s distinct almost melancholic vocals. For anyone with an interest not just in ACR but early Factory releases then Kerr’s first release is worthy of your attention.

Track listing: Rip You Right Back, Inland, Play Sumthing Fast, Reason I Feel Like An Alien, No Left Shoe, Technicolor Dawn, Help Me, And Gone, Sum Space, Into Sunlight.

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