In the darkest depths of the North East, something special has been brewing. Getintothis’ Paul Riley looks at SLUG’s debut album ahead of their Psych Fest performance.
SLUG are a something of a musical enigma. Impossible to pigeonhole, they have taken sounds and inspiration from a bewilderingly broad palate to create one of the most inventive, fizzingly refreshing debut albums in recent years. The band’s appearance at this year’s Psych Fest promises to be something a bit special.
Ian Black has been beavering away for four years on an album that owes a lot to his time as session bassist for Sunderland’s Field Music. While he struggled throughout the creative process, the confidence and sense of freedom engendered by touring and working with the band helped him realise his vision. Enlisting the help of Field Music’s David and Peter Brewis as producers (they also play in the live band), Black’s painstaking journey towards completion has yielded an album that should not only smash the inevitable end-of-year charts, but will sound fresh and vital long after some of its contemporary releases have faded into memory.
‘What if we took a stoner metal riff and used it like a dub part, or what if we combined the drumming style of John Bonham with a James Brown beat and the squelch bass of Claudio Simonetti?’
The first song to surface from RIPE was Cockeyed Rabbit Wrapped in Plastic. All of the elements from the above quote are apparent in the mix, and yet are spliced with each other in a way that creates a very unusual beast. The riff is the foundation, and yet it is not as omnipresent as you would expect, instead tripping in and out with complete disregard, evolving as it leaps from one instrument to another. It is rock, but not as we know it, cut up between funk jams and a hectically dissonant surf-pop guitar.
Throughout RIPE, each song has its own set of influences, from INXS and Def Leppard through to Funkadelic by way of film soundtracks. In amongst a soundscape of delightfully odd squeaks, bleeps and distorted noises, there are moments of startling beauty, such as the stark piano which punctuates Kill Your Darlings. Peng Peng is a gentle ballad that lushly contrasts with Greasy Mind, a sleazy slice of Prince-inspired pop with less than honourable intentions.
Taken altogether, there is a baffling amount of music crammed into its svelte 32 minute running time and for the paltry sum of £12.50 you can purchase this wonderment on a slab of white vinyl.
SLUG’s live show is a mouth-watering prospect and there is no telling whether this album is a one-off or a more long-term project. We wait, with bated breath, for PZYK.