He used to be the bassist in The [B]Sandals[/B], the boho-grunge-funkers who pre-empted skunk rock...

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No wonder Simmonds now makes music on his own. He used to be the bassist in The Sandals, the boho-grunge-funkers who pre-empted skunk rock, then, because of wildly differing personalities and an unrelenting interest in recreational cigarettes, self-destructed. So, no arguing this time, no wasted weekends and no sitting in a rotten tourbus.

‘Man With No Thumbs’, Simmonds’ recent single, saw his shift into isolation get off to a powerful start, with a marriage of bright techno beams and jazz abstraction. The bad news is he hasn’t surpassed that track here. But at least he’s not far off the mark, whirling through a range of tribal-tinged workouts.

The puzzling news, meanwhile, is he’s plumped for such fiddlesticks track titles as ‘Theme To The Last Puma’ and ‘The Millennium Question’. Simmonds’ fuzzy-minded eco and near-future concerns evidently rooted him in some dark spells, leading to the positively mournful ‘The Ice Waltz’. Better realised are the moments when he perks up, on the slippy techno of ‘The Leopard’ and ‘The Preacher”s berserk drum-fest.

As you may have noticed, the rubbish titles keep on coming. Yet, contrarily, so does the feeling that, if he can lay off the ambient mooching, Simmonds is getting close to a commendable new take on the smouldering groove.