Two Lone Swordsmen
Peppered with Spastic Magic
Rotters Golf Club
didn’t spend all that time and money scrambling after TLS remixes just for someone to come along and put them altogether on one bloody disc. I could’ve been spending my time dusting off my white labels or making lists of my top 10 favourite something-or-other; not scrambling through vinyl racks under the sneer of one of those arrogant shitwits you find in independent record stores.
Going strong since 1996, Andrew Weatherall and Keith Tenniswood seem to have settled into a twitching style that meshes analogue weirdness with strict digital mechanics. Where Weatherall’s previous act Sabres of Paradise had a more organic sound and seemed to be a generally more commercial proposition, TLS come from a much weirder and harsher place. The work here is neu-electro: as well as being a silly pun I made up, it’s also quite apt. There’s a sandbar foundation of electro’s vital elements in there, but it’s dirty, messy, prone to plough a grease-and-smoke spitting beat into your head, or else tiptoe melodically through drones, static and puttering percussion. It’s no wonder the Swordsmen call themselves “machine funk” specialists; they push the production till it warps like twisted metal beyond it’s original programming, creating their own one-weirder sounds. To quote Weatherall, it’s soul over process.
And while their more high profile collaborative work (Dot Alison, Beth Orton and Primal Scream) may have kept their name in the headlines, they’ve remixed and worked with an astonishingly disparate group of artists. You never have to wait too long to hear the next installment of TLS, that is if you can find the bastard 12”.
Sometimes a TLS remix rarely has much to do with the original piece, and this can be a blessing for those who are sorely lacking in talent or tunes, such as Starsailor’s histrionic dirge. The TLS mix of MOR radio smash “Good Souls” here shifts and stretches, elongating into shape and settling into a pattern of tight, dripping percussion with swells of sci-fi TV show effects. The only identifiable vocal is a dubby, reverbed “Jah!” Where did the original go? Will they promise not to let it come back again? The other mixes here range right across the electronic musical terrain from the donkey-bollocked bass monster that is their reinterpretation of Six By Seven’s “Eat Junk Become Junk”, the static-beat melancholy techno-pop of Lali Puna, and the slower, hip-hop paced remix of Calexico’s “Untitled 3”.
TLS don’t make a misstep here. This is perhaps more due to the wealth of material, rather than the duo being proactively selective. The Sweetie and Dark Globe remixes come immediately to mind as essential tracks that have been left off (although I have heard that some strange people do find it is possible to live without them). Rumour has it that this may be the first of several such compilations to be spaced out between their own material. I bloody well hope not, as this will mean you lazy-backsided slackers will be able to catch up with me, and my rare TLS remix spreadsheet, complete with label details and catalogue numbers, will become obsolete. It may even begin to appear somewhat pointless and sad.
Peppered With Spastic Magic is a faultless introduction to their world, as well as a money saving investment for when you become hopelessly addicted to the sound of it.
STYLUSMAGAZINE.COM'S ALBUM OF THE WEEK: NOVEMBER 24-NOVEMBER 30, 2003
Reviewed by: Scott McKeating
Reviewed on: 2003-11-24