Late Of The Pier

Fantasy Black Channel

OK, this is getting stupid. How in the name of Andrew VanWyngarden can we be expected to take this album seriously? We accepted Klaxons’ apocalyptic cut’n’paste old-school oddness. We bought Metronomy’s spasmodic electronica-with-a-heart. We’ve even gone with Holy Fuck’s playschool digital kraut shtick. But this? It starts with ‘Hot Tent Blues’, a fanfare of ludicrously bombastic ’80s guitar posturing like the finale to a forgotten Richard Gere romance, and finishes with the Queen-gone-industrial ‘Bathroom Gurgle’. In-between it’s a random Pollock mess, from tracks that sound like Crystal Castles doing Van Halen (‘Focker’) to glam-punk sidewinder ‘Whitesnake’, which collapses into the sound of David Coverdale’s head after a three-day post-stadium gig bender – if David Coverdale was built by the makers of the ZX spectrum. Half the time it sounds broken (er, ‘Broken’), like it needs a good old shake to get back on the right frequency.

It is a joke, right? Well, anyone who’s experienced LOTP in any capacity or spotted that 8/10 will know it isn’t. Or if it is, it’s more brilliant than Richard Pryor doing Lenny Bruce on helium. It’s ludicrousness par excellence. With the arrival of ‘Fantasy Black Channel’ – four young men given free rein over four studios – it’s time to hail the new age of anything-goes ridiculousness. It takes a certain kind of mind to make this. While others whinge about living and dying in cul-de-sac towns shackled by cul-de-sac imaginations, LOTP’s vision is housed on Dubai’s ‘The World’ island-creation project. Lynchpin Sam Eastgate’s attic has a lot to account for. It’s where his father kept an assortment of synths, guitars and drum machines, and where the urchin cultivated a burning desire for experimentation; musical and apparently otherwise.

At first glance, drugs appear to be the cornerstone of their sound. The album opens with that all-too-familiar lament: “Didn’t sleep last night, couldn’t come down”, and the likes of ‘The Bears Are Coming’ could only be written after a brunch of mandrake root benedict. An attention-bereft oddity that begins with bedpost African percussion seguing into low-frequency synth burping and electronic squeals that sound like Pacman throwing up, it subsides into a mournful mid-section of Atari suicide that ushers in a free-for-all magical mystery digression, further breakdown, then a bleep-blip finale. Did we mention the recurrent noise of spoons hitting mugs, an idea reminiscent of erstwhile King Crimson drummer Jamie Muir? He ran off to join a monastery. Let that be a warning, Donington boys.

Throughout, Late Of The Pier (and producer Erol Alkan) paraglide over mortal conventions, snatching ideas and abstract thoughts – think radiation suits, brown oceans, pineapple pieces in brine – from thin air. ‘The Enemy Are The Future’, along with the acoustic ‘hidden’ track, is the only time they sink near our bog-standard concepts of a normal song and as such is the only boring moment. Late Of The Pier said they wanted to make music that makes drugs redundant. With ‘Fantasy Black Channel’ you can just say no and still feel like Winehouse’s frontal lobe.

Tim Chester