Isn’t it funny how things work out? Tupac Shakur started out as a bit-part player on lunatic funk-drenched hip-hoppers Digital Underground. Listen to their brilliant first album, Sex Packets, and you’ll occasionally hear bursts of the voice that went on to release a bewildering number of albums – most of them posthumously.
Tricky was once just a voice too – albeit a similarly distinct one – on the first two Massive Attack albums. He then left, in mild acrimony, recycled a couple of his lyrics from his Massive Attack days, added some awkward noises, and emerged with Maxinquaye – one of the most affecting, original slices of unusual, paranoid fuzzy noise ever.
It was drenched in mythical hype – stories of journalists being forced to make copies at gunpoint and the like circulated wildly in these pre-internet days. The review copies were supposedly robed in a velvet case which was in turn sealed into a miniature plastic bodybag. The album was set up for a huge, underwhelming fall. It didn’t come. It’s a woozy, confused masterpiece.
Hype is always a difficult card to play. Raving about a band too much, however truly you may mean what you say, makes you and them appear misguided and desperate. I may be both of those things, but I’d hate to drag a good new band down with me. So if praise isn’t too forthcoming about Today’s New Band, it’s not because they’re not super-ace (they are), but because I’m trying to under-hype them, if that’s possible.
The Hopeful Spaztiks round off an impressively diverse month on A New Band A Day in cranky style. They’re a band who can maintain five different musical points of view at once, and flit between them all. Song Aquatic sounds like a toy racing car, and swerves like one too, veering over a number of electro cliffs in the process.
Cup Of is deranged enough to summon up the spirit of Level 42, sneaking in the 80’s most estate-agent-friendly instrument – the slap-bass – and make it work. Hail ping-pongs appropriate noises off your confused brain, resetting your innate sense of rhythm to synchronise with their warped vision.
The Hopeful Spaztiks’ sound like the prettily naive work of complete novices given shape, coherence and funk by a mysterious guiding hand. They straddle looseness and tightness like a before-and-after photograph of a hanging. Dangle with them, here!
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