Whisperin' & Hollerin' Review:
'ROMAN NOSEBAND, THE'
- Album: 'REPERCHAGE' - Label: 'BEENIE'S HOOSE'
- Genre: 'Rock' - Release Date: '06.12.04'- Catalogue No: 'BHCD 0020'
Our Rating: 8/10
Some might call it ironic, others probably coincidence, that a member of the Beta Band has chosen to release an album with his solo project, THE ROMAN NOSEBAND,the day after the Beta’s perform their last ever gig, in Edinburgh’s Liquid Rooms.
Though, it seems the demise of the Beta Band has done nothing to stop the creative energies of each of its members. Quite the opposite in fact. While this release is the first long player to surface post Beta’s, Steve Mason has already released two e.p.’s under the solo guise of King Biscuit Time, and an album and tour are planned for early next year. Richard Greentree is also putting the finishing touches to his solo album, while there have also been rumours that the pre-Beta incarnations, involving ex-member Gordon Anderson, The Pigeons and The Alienz, could well be reformed. Busy times.
According to the Roman Noseband’s website: “Contractual restraints prevent us from identifying the driving force behind this band, but let's just say that if you're fans of the Beta Band, you'll dig the grooves on this CD.” Which is a shame really. Because the man in question deserves all the publicity going for producing, what is, essentially, a stunning debut.
Although The Roman Noseband’s ‘Reperchage’ is a low key, self produced affair, only available through mail order (www.beenieshoose.com), and from a couple of small independent record shops, the sound they produce is far from understated.
Recorded just outside Edinburgh, at the emerging Sound Café, our man has recruited members from ‘house’ band Eat Rice, to produce an album full of laid back, funky, 70’s influenced grooves.
The musical influences are laid out for all to see. From the Talking Heads style vocals on ‘Big Moon’ and ‘Train Comes’, to the 1970’s funk sound of David Bowie on ‘Farm Life’ and ‘Strapped’, to the underlying electronic influence of Sparks and Kraftwerk. There’s lots to get excited about here.
Opener ‘Big Moon’ has a David Byrne-type growl, while the acoustic guitar and drum backing feel straight out of the Rolling Stones’ ‘I Just Wanna See His Face’. ‘Farm Life’ uses the riff from Bowie’s ‘Fame’ to great effect, while our man drawls lines like: “Is your life just a mirage? Is your life just a cabbage?” over the top.
The only real whisperings of his recent past life are to be found on the sensational ‘Monkey’, where the use of the Caribbean drum sound was firstexploredontheBeta’ssong‘,Number15’.Here,theRoman Noseband recreate the electronic, organic, percussive sound the Beta’s revelled in.
‘Uncle Derek’ is a fun, bass-filled, electronic tale of “Good Ol’ Uncle D”, and has some great lines, such as: “Uncle Derek spat out his money, and bought a small island in Lithuania by the North Sea”. ‘Train Comes’ is a rollercoaster of a track involving fantastic bass work, wailing saxophone and even some Red Indian-style chanting, all backed with great vocals from Eat Rice vocalist Trish Murray.
The best, though, is left for last. ‘Tommy Cotton’ is a loping, soulful, funky track, incorporating sumptuous strings and a strong bass backline to create the perfect ending to what, for me, has been one of the most interesting plays in a long time.
If I have to give one, my main criticism would be that ‘Reperchage’ is far too short. It only takes 31 minutes for the 8 tracks to come and go, and, frankly, that’s not a lot of music for your money. Still, that said, what you do get is worth every penny of the tenner it’ll cost you for this little beauty. And let’s hope the contractual restraints are resolved soon; then our man can get all the attention he deserves.