Release date – 02/08/2010
Originally appeared on GIITTV
Pastoral daydreaming and kosmiche pliable Nottingham quartet The Soundcarriers seem to have soaked up an abundance of seminal choice records, richly plucked from the late 60’s and early 70’s.
Omnivorous in gathering this time period’s influences together under one roof, they go one step better then on their previous 2009 album, and debut, Harmonium.
Ambitious in scope, ‘Celeste’ has a more focussed and tighter sound, the musicianship in no doubt exceptional, especially the rhythm section of drums and bass – which has a brooding flat tone that emanates a certain glowing warmth and leads the charge throughout.
The redolent spectre of Stereolab, and to a degree, Broadcast, loom heavily, with Leonore’s lush diaphanous vocals evoking the haunted tones of the School of Seven Bells Deheza sisters. Folksy soft charms twist their way over a often tight backtrack, that hops from the Krautrock motorik driving beat of Neu! to the west coast age of Aquarius halcyon charm of The Association.
Most of the songs have a similar motif, usually beginning with some atmospheric lead-in, before working up an infectious stirring groove or hazy drifting sweep. At times our four-piece dip into jazz, Parisian noir chic, ‘Step Outside’, and even Euro Ye-Ye, ‘Broken Sleep’.
On the grand opening suite ‘Last Broadcast’, Hammond snatches echo on the breeze to a tight snapping hi-hat and prowling motoring bassline, in the vain of Can’s ‘Mother Sky’ – the press release worked up sweat comparing the sound of The Soundcarriers bass player to that of Holger Czukay, a nice gesture but wholly misplaced.
Highlights include the Lee Hazelwood western sounding ‘Hideaway’, which mixes a biting version of Enya and Beth Orton style vocals to a wandering beguiling acoustic guitar accompaniment, changing into a daring jam.
‘There Only Once’ is a straight-up tropical psychedelia, treading on the toes of Os Mutants, whereas the grand finale extended instrumental ‘Celeste’ uses more of those Krautrock aspiration pulsing rhythms, filled with stalking powerful basslines, hard hitting fills and resonating sustained analogue coated sound effects – stay around after this track as there’s a bonus tune.
These diverse ranging allusions continue with the Jefferson Airplane-esque shimmering tambourine breezy pastiche ‘Long Highway’, a shared vocal resolute and calm works its magic.
The Soundcarriers certainly create some inspired moments, even though the vocals can at times seem rather too blissfully wispy and fey, and some of these tracks often sound-a-like.
For all the talk of “future-retro” – evidently this album is firmly rooted in the retro – I can’t help but feel like I’ve heard all this music before.
Granted ‘Celeste’ is an achievement, the true spirit of the age in which they evoke demands something more experimental, something brand new, after all the whole point of, say. Krautrock was to wipe the slate clean and not look back into the past.
Unfortunately our Nottingham nebular travelling music astronauts can’t quite separate their own uniqueness from their influences.