An album-length semi-catchall of outtakes and remixes of Wild Opera tracks, Dry Cleaning Ray delivers value for money due to its classification as an EP, but the worth is more than simply financial. The title track itself is a new mix of the Wild Opera cut, its at once moody and inspirational feeling a fine demonstration of the Bowness/Wilson partnership, helped along further by the intriguing keyboard part Wilson adds to the proceedings. "Diet Mothers" is a more radical reconstruction, Wilson taking "Pretty Genius" and revamping it into a slow, slinky trip-hop crawl, Bowness' keening vocal deep in the mix behind dub echo guitars and a wailing melodica. The other remix of note comes from an unexpected source -- Bryn Jones, aka Muslimgauze, whose avant-garde combination of aggressive electronics, dub, and hip-hop had won a fan in Wilson. Created inadvertently when Wilson gave Jones a copy of Wild Opera's "Housewives Hooked on Heroin," "Punished for Being Born" highlights Jones' trademark brutal aural collage in a fascinating pulverization of the original. The remaining new tracks are an engaging bunch, continuing on from Wild Opera's general atmosphere with various side explorations as the EP goes. "Sweetside Silver Night" is another classic of No-Man mystery and romance, flute and jazzy guitar mixing with the crisp, low-key drive of the song as a whole, while the breakbeat rumble of "Urban Disco" calls to mind the brutal hip-hop punch of early No-Man cuts. The abbreviated blasts of electric guitar at points nicely contrast the sudden, calm keyboard parts. Quieter songs crop up: "Jack the Sax" relies mostly on acoustic guitar backed at points with extra feedback while Bowness' singing is treated with echo, while "Kightlinger" -- described in the liner notes as being recorded very late one night -- feels like a tribute to the Cocteau Twins' cascading, beautiful guitar wash.
Dry Cleaning Ray Review
by Ned Raggett