Two Lone Swordsmen
harper minds than mine have pondered this question over the past couple of decades: is Andrew Weatherall the electronica joker in the rock deck or is it vicey-versey? Known primarily to rock audiences as the producer of Screamadelica, his DJing and his production work both with Sabres of Paradise and on his own are equally seminal. His records with Keith "Radioactive Man" Tenniswood suggest he's happiest when he keeps riding the fence, though to be fair, it's fence-riding of the "feet in both camps" rather than the wishy-washy sort.
Wrong Meeting fits snugly in the footsteps of 2004's great From the Double Gone Chapel, but with a starker, leaner aesthetic and not quite so heavy a bondage-boot stomp. Like that album, it's a collection of rootsy rock tunes sheathed in ProTools spit-shine, electronic methodologies applied to bar-band vibes, held together with punchy melodies and Weatherall's charmingly dry vocals. If anything, this time out 2LS sound even less like a techno outfit and much more like an extremely hip garage band with serious studio smarts.
Opener "Patient Saints" establishes the tone and shows right away the value of sharpening r&r shards with the tools acquired in techno school: a tuff drum and bass-dominated groove unfolds in a slow, moody haze somewhere between the chillout room and the black light poster. Rich, cinematic sounds peek around the tom-heavy drumming in a gradual unveiling of additive layers that will be familiar to techno fans. "Rattlesnake Daddy" plumbs similar sunglass-wearing territory, trailing lines of reverb behind as it winds across the dusty highway.
The mood safely set, Weatherall and Tenniswood waste no time in breaking it with "No Girl in My Plan," a skull-headed Robt. Williams hot-rod crashing into techno's pristine glass edifice, shattering electro flotsam and downtempo jetsam in all directions. It's a tongue-in-cheek (one hopes) bit of recycled Stooges machismo with a thin veneer of decency (the clean production values at work here) that keeps it from being another retro-garage gruntfest. "Puritan Fist" is even more grotesque and murky (in a very good way). The already sunken vocals recede another notch and sex and sweat drip freely from the dirty, gear-spinning subterranean auto-factory blues hammered out by far-off guitar and up-front mechanical percussion.
But they're just getting started, folks. "Nevermore (Than Just Enough)" is the stankiest slow-burner on the album, sort of a Bad Seeds urban blues churn without the smell of Elvis and brown heroin rot lingering 'round the room. The title track shuffles off into a weird, fuzzed-out little corner, skincrawl lyrics and desert twang drizzled over a white dub backdrop that still manages to bust out into a few "sha la la la"s. It's the closest 2LS get on the album to sounding like absolutely nothing you've heard before, and they seem to sense it. Next track "Evangeline" ratchets up the rockabilly vibe, coming rather close to being a standard rave-up, albeit a successful one. The obligatory late-night cigarette-glow ballad follows, and does well enough, but any track would be dwarfed by closer "Get Out of My Kingdom," which does not fail its title. Applying the terse, pristine/scuzzy 2LS aesthetic to matters most epic, it's post-punk gospel that breathes and soars without being overly pretentious or distant (a la Spiritualized).
And if that isn't enough to pull you, the whole deal clocks in at under forty-five minutes without any mis-steps, something which both rock and electronic acts ought to be paying close attention to. Result? A taut, unassailable collection of retro-future tunes that demands listening from a much broader audience than any one genre can contain.