First off, excitement: Electrelane is releasing a b-sides etc comp in August. Run, don’t walk, simply for their b-side cover of Roxy Music’s “More Than This.” Scored it on vinyl, almost wore the grooves away.
Lost Oughts! Lost Oughts!
I’m so sorry to be happening to you right now. I’m sour today. So we’re lost nineties.
Writing about Long Fin Killie feels like a chore, if only because their three albums and assorted EPs were almost all I listened to after coming to their final record, Amelia, after they’d already broken up. A trio, mostly, revolving around multi-instrumentalist and sometime Mogwai member Luke Sutherland, their sound surprised me — a dense soup of dubby bass and drums easily exploding into jungle breakbeats, violin as rhythm instrument, bass in the lead sometimes, spastic, James Chance-like brass, noble and sparing guitar. Relentlessly intelligent. Prog the way it’s meant to be, but never has been. In other words, precise.
Over time, Sutherland’s lyrics began to impress most, which for me is unique; I usually ignore rock lyrics since I’m so often disappointed. It took time to acquire a taste for his sometimes whispery tenor, but soon that wasn’t the point. Sutherland writes about all sorts of sex, gang violence, Scottish culture, and most poignantly, about growing up black, in Scotland, with white parents, and constantly being confronted with stereotypes he just doesn’t fit.
“Trying to break the launguage barrier/with men who speak like I do …think about it / this picture / wait until they get their hands on you … a little prick / dissing bitches / a gun-toting jewelerized foul-mouth”
But Sutherland can explain himself heaps better than I; his three novels, while difficult to find here, have attracted celebration and prize nominations in his native Britain. I’d read ’em if I could find ’em in a store. Always forget to Amazon them.
Did I mention he plays the shit out of the violin?
I also always loved the fact that LFK was thematically consistent over the span of their albums to the point of all three album titles bear the first name of early twentieth century American icons; all three also sport covers reproducing Durer woodcarvings.
Valentino (1996) may be the hardest, guitar-wise. It definitely the safest, honing the holyshit experimentalism of their debut, Houdini (1995), which remains my favorite. Amelia (1998) is the least warm-sounding of the three, but the most focused, and poppy, allowing programmed beats to infiltrate final versions of songs that, as proved by singles’ b-sides, were all acoustic in demo form.
It’s not hyperbole when I say that Houdini is my favorite record of the 1990s.
(Brent DiCrescenzo of Snitchfuck hates LFK – he gave Amelia a 5.9 in 2004, but his review would have been funny if it didn’t prove he’d been listening to the wrong cd because his general retardedness doesn’t allow him to organize all the free music he gets sent to his trust-fund supported condo in some hip exurb of Chicago or Detroit. He takes LFK for a jam band, although there’s no ‘jamming’ and Mark E. Smith would never involve himself with such like; he completely omits their context (gay Scottish black man violin jungle-punk) — he even says they might wear sandals — but when he writes things like “they’re music geeks for music geeks” or “They’re what Rush would have sounded like in the 16th Century” as a way of slagging them, you wonder, as you do with poor writers panning something, what’s so wrong with all that? Wouldn’t Rush circa 1534 sound kinda awesome? Baroque heady-ness? Better than any real Rush, that’s for sure. )
Long Fin Killie – Sugar Helping
Long fin Killie – Yawning at Comets
Long Fin Killie – Deep House
Post LFK, Sutherland seems to occupy himself more with writing than recording. His ‘Music AM’ work is too soft-ambient for my taste, and although his work under the Bows moniker is more trip-hop than I’d like, his immediate skill with sampler/sequencer/electronic beats is impressive. I prefer Cassidy, his second Bows effort, although even that one’s a little precious for my taste. Both records seem a collaboration with Scandy chanteuse Stina Nordenstam or however the $#@&^% you spell her name.
Bows — Ali 4 Onassis
Bows – B Boy Blunt
Bows – Uniroyal
I believe all works Sutherland are still on/maybe available on Too Pure, but the site doesn’t list them, so maybe not. Ebay though. There’s vinyl floating around, too.
PS To those in the comments section begging to differ on my belief that terrorism, while it may be defined (too broadly) as the specific targeting of civilians, doesn’t have to be purely political: please refer to recent and usually successful efforts, by state prosecutors, to tackle gang — or any– non political violence via post-9/11 terrorism statutues.