Release Date: 11/04/2011
If you’ve ever seen the Stanley Kubrick adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining you’ll know two things. Firstly, it’s a godsend nobody has revamped it for the CGI age. Secondly, it’s got some of the most unnerving opening credits in film history.
Cutting to the chase, or rather a meandering drive through stunning mountain vistas, a version of Hector Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique scores the scene. Sombre brass nods to the funeral march, while strained violins smear a Hitchcockian sense of impending anti-climax over the high end. Nothing untoward happens on screen, but it feels like we’re watching a family travelling to near-certain death. And not least thanks to the distorted vocal cries that pierce the sonic background.
Martin Stimming’s latest long player begins in a similarly edgy way, albeit with less threatening, macabre undertones. Strings erupt into a twisted tune up, before turning into minute-spanning refrains while a double bass plucks in a way that suggests the instrument could be about to turn nasty, or burst into a more amicable, groove oriented sound.
In the end neither is true, as My Lonesome Drumset proves. Lo-fi snares and kicks filter in and out of earshot, while a wave of 303 peaks and troughs with almost no regard for time signatures, yet somehow it all makes sense, in a kind of desolate jazz jam session kind of way. Because calling any of the 13 pieces offered here real tracks in the common sense would be wrong, just like describing this producer as anything other than a forward thinking, borderline genius would be unfair.
Whether a mad professor or simply ahead of his time one thing is for sure, this hasn’t got widespread appeal written in any of the sleeve notes. But it probably should. Cooking Coffee, for instance, is a beautiful harp built affair, all sedate tom pads and shuffling percussion that’s reminiscent of South American sounds, albeit in a hallucinatory guise that’s less quirky exotica, and more experimentalism.
By now you might be thinking ‘file under world music’, and in some ways that is the most fitting canon in which to place this release. Apart from maybe Romany folk heard at some imagined fireside, a rather unexpected vision invoked by No Strings Attached. Either way this marketing nightmare is any leftfield music fan’s dream. Brooding, evocative, never boring and incredibly enjoyable to hear. Like Black Caramel’s hummed male baritone, there’s soul behind each (often-mechanical) noise, resulting in a surprisingly human experience, considering at first glance the contents are so utterly otherworldly.