The Week in Reviews

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Nathan Haines – ‘FM’
Take a couple of turns off the main road going through Tathra, on the south coast of New South Wales, and you’ll find one unassuming house, among many of the same, with a single revealing detail. There is a sandwich board placed out the front, with a painted dial and a moveable arrow, telling how good the oysters are at any one time of the year. The day we arrived the arrow was all the way to the right, sitting squarely in the “busting fat” category: real premium oysters. We bought two dozen of them and sat on the curb, sucking them down fresh and cold until, sated, we climbed back into the 1997 Odyssey and kept heading south. I’m not sure who was in charge of the music, but a song came on – as many songs had done before it – starting off innocuously enough until a sick little bass lick informed us that something quite cool was about to happen. I’m not well acquainted with Steely Dan, nor do I know much about Nathan Haines, but once again here was that easy Damon Albarn sound; after that first couplet I was – we all were, I think – hooked. There’s the kind of party I’d like to go to, or that I used to go to, when really all you cared about was whether the music would keep going until dawn, when you’d resent the rising of the sun. The song would recur for the rest of the trip, sometimes functioning as an interlude, sometimes as a reprise, always prompting a feeling modelled, perhaps, on its essence captured in that wonderful refrain: ‘no static at all.’ There is such an ease, a simplicity, about it, and while I’m yet to find oysters as fresh as those we ate in Tathra, and I’m not sure that grapefruit wine is still a thing, the party will keep on going.

Bwana – Capsule’s Pride
Probably best that we talk about our album of the month before this one runs out. Although Akira is also one of my favourite films (the manga is stunning as well, read it), rarely do albums – even songs – like this work out: They’re novelty wears off pretty quickly and what you’re left with is a series of knowing winks to fans that, to be honest, would look like whoever was doing the winking was having a seizure. But there’s no instances of this with Capsule’s Pride: From the inspired flip of ‘Kandea’s Theme‘ over a pounding kick in the opening track (‘Capsule’s Pride (Bikes)’), the album plays out as a kind of alternate soundtrack to the film,  loosely following its narrative arc through what it samples in each song. While this is somewhat abstractedly signposted by the song titles, it’s not immediately apparent, and the album works without knowing this (as it hadn’t occurred to me until I was writing this). It’s also not just a series of club-ready remixes, with ‘Failed Escape (Where You Belong)’s’ journey out of its initial claustrophobic sonic space, to the James Ferraro-esque ‘SOL,’ and the expansive ‘K&K (Lovers in the Light)’ making for some compelling changes in tone that keep the album interesting. Really, this album shouldn’t be as good as it is. It should have a handful of good songs and then run out of ideas. But it doesn’t. It’s great.

Photo: Akira

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