The Way Of Curve : 1990/2004
f you follow a curve around far enough, it becomes a circle. Which is a little like the mathematical philosophy that insists all straight lines are just extremely thin rectangles. I’m sure you haven’t failed to notice that CDs are circular, and Curve are probably mathematical philosophers of a sort... err.. and this is rapidly spiralling out of control into the terrifying realm of awfully tenuous introductions. Can we all just agree to pretend it was marvellously profound? Thanks. A better introduction would probably have said that this was a two CD set, featuring the classic pairing of a “Best Of” and a “Rare/Unreleased” disc. But, sadly, I didn’t write that one.
Curve are an intriguing jelly baby selection mix of musical styles. As such, please feel free to reach inside my hastily constructed bag of metaphorical sweets. Maybe you’ll pull out the shimmering yellow shoegazey baby, or the freakishly haired purple goth baby? You may even glimpse the glow-stick-green dance baby and the metallic grey industrial baby. Or perhaps you’ve just fled from this whole scenario with images of Stranger Danger! videos looming large in your mind. Despite your shameful cowardice, the unavoidable truth remains; Curve are dancey-shoegazey-gothy-distortion-tastic!
They demonstrate this with varying degrees of success across the sixteen “Best” tracks (which is, essentially, a singles collection). You can chart a gradual progression from the comforting confines of shoegaze (albeit rather more muscular…shoeglaring, perhaps?) towards a disturbing mish-mash of fuzzed-up guitars and dark drum patterns. But in truth, all the ingredients are there on “Ten Little Girls”; they just get progressively louder. Toni Halliday’s vocals creep higher in the mix, and there’s an ill-advised attempt at some kind of commercial viability around “Chinese Burn”. Luckily that all goes away again when Kevin Shields turns up on guitar to churn out some of his ingenious magic (“Want More Need Less”). It’s a lascivious compilation of sex and death... with danceable beats! Even that pesky Twist urchin would have a hard time asking for more.
But twirl my Victorian slumlord’s moustache and slap me some infant mortality rates, there *is* more. Of course there is, I even mentioned it earlier; a whole CD of b-sides, covers and alternative mixes. My tender ears find the b-side material to be pretty much indistinguishable from the a-side stuff (ie; still super). Covers of Ian Dury’s “What A Waste” (a storming maelstrom, featuring the man himself) and Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” (either incredible or frighteningly terrible, I haven’t quite decided yet) are welcome inclusions. Aphex Twin pop up with the ambient wibble mix of “Falling Free”, and “Chinese Burn” remains rubbish after some tinkering by Lunatic Calm. Oh. And Kevin Shields appears again, adds some infectious pseudo bird noises to “Coming Up Roses”, and calls it his version. Which is entertaining enough.
Scientific estimates suggest that around seven million bands in the world will be sounding a little bit like Curve at any given moment in time; some more so than others (special waves to one refuse-based group in particular). I’m not too sure about all of that. I’m not even sure if Curve were doing it first. They’ve been too busy doing it best.
Reviewed by: Peter Parrish
Reviewed on: 2004-06-08