Will Sergeant

Themes for Grind

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Will Sergeant's first formal solo effort (not counting the privately dubbed Weird as Fish tape), Themes for Grind must have seemed more than a little curious to the hordes of Bunnymen fanatics already following the band in 1982. Strictly instrumental and consisting of guitar/keyboard-created numbers like his soundtrack for the band documentary Le Via Luonge, this album is a showcase for Sergeant's ability with minimal atmospherics instead of snappy guitar heroics. But taken on its own terms, Themes for Grind is both entrancing and often dramatic -- rather than feeling like a performer in search of a band, Sergeant is focused on self-contained compositions that do indeed feel like themes from lost movies. Instead of trying to re-create the focused power of Heaven Up Here, say, a song like "Scene IV" finds its own balance, shimmering keyboards wheezing down from the heights while brisk percussion bursts and buried guitar add to the theatrical punch. If anything, a more sympathetic connection could be found with early Simple Minds than with Sergeant's own group -- the surprisingly inspirational tinge of "Scene II" and "Scene V" isn't far removed from Empires and Dance. The tag of a psychedelic revival that the Bunnymen had to deal with could be more accurately seen as a kindred spirit -- if anything, the drifting propulsion of "Scene III" more suggests Neu!, while the moody tribal beats and textures of "Scene VIII" could predict Vidna Obmana. The mid-'90s CD reissue of the album included a nice bonus -- "Favourite Branches," which originally had appeared on a single tied in with the WOMAD festival in 1982. It very much fits in with the rest of the album thematically and provides a fine alternate conclusion to the disc as a result.

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