London Electric Guitar Orchestra

13 Lumps of Chease

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For their second opus, the London Electric Guitar Orchestra have avoided anything resembling a graphic score. Improvisation, be it structured or free, has also been ruled out. Instead listeners are treated to 16 gems of instrumental guitar rock -- without the drums. The tunes have similar-sounding titles, like "Pamper," "Shunter," and "Pumper." They are presented without a iota of explanation. Why? This reviewer assumes it is because good, efficient pop should need no liner notes. That's what happens here. The L.E.G.O. experiments with the heritage of Duane Eddy and the Ventures by way of Derek Bailey, Fred Frith, and Glenn Branca. All the energies are focused on creative guitar arrangements backing light melodies. Leader John Bisset will later pull a similar trick with his quartet Pocket: You expect something avant-garde (L.E.G.O. is an avant-garde ensemble; check their other recordings), but what you get is music so pretty and cheerful that the experience becomes strange. And deep within its bowels, you can still hear the experimental vibe, subsumed but very much present. Vivienne Corringham sings some wordless lines in a couple of tunes; with a beautiful voice like that, it would be a crime if she didn't. Highlights include the Eddy-esque "Vamper," the slightly melancholy "Simper," and the opening "Strumper." The ten-minute closer, "Gloamer," takes a different turn, its darker, repetitive riff being accompanied by output jack noise. This is highly addictive music, despite (or because of?) its simplicity and deceiving guise. In its own special way, 13 Lumps of Chease is to L.E.G.O. what Cheap at Half the Price was to Fred Frith.

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