Homemade Electroscope

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The photo of British production legend Joe Meek on the inside cover art is the perfect hint as to what this Scottish duo is doing on Homemade. Rather than trying to recreate Meek specifically or his galloping, energetic side (though they do title one track "Joe Heard a New World" in homage to his early concept album about aliens on the moon), Gayle Harrison and John Cavanagh instead mix many different strands of music into their brew. Instead of the chug or crisp lounge of, say, Stereolab, Electroscope lurks in shadowy corners to come up with their understated sound of the space age tinged tunes. Thus, what would normally be the straightforward lo-fi of "Listen to Prowlers," with Harrison's soft vocals and electric guitar touched with mysterious keyboards and just a hint of otherworldliness. Hints of the playfulness that Meek liked do crop up as well, from the gentle bells on "Roter Kamm" to the goofy keyboard tones on "Mesmeric Underground." Brass is actually somewhat prominent, with solo trumpets and saxes tracing out lonely, mysterious lines over sometimes minimal backing, sometimes slightly more fleshed out, as on the moody "Battles Lines Are Redrawn." "Tunguska" is a great example, with just trumpet and wheezing keyboards sounding out a plaintive, melancholy tone, while "The Trumpet From Outer Space" is almost self-explanatory. Some tunes are a touch on the longer side, as with the five-minute trumpet and percussive chime of "Fusee Chair," but most are quick, making their quiet point and moving on. Cavanagh's deep, not quite portentous voice nicely offsets Harrison's singing. His narrative lyrics on a number of songs -- the plane crash scenario of "Night Flight to Nowhere," the amiable tribute "Joe Heard a New World," and more -- fit the overall air of mystery quite well.

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