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Re: BISONICS Play For Today on Smoking Ant Records

From: Suzy Pullen
Date: 20 Apr 2010
Time: 08:33:16 -0500


There's something about this album that doesn't feel right. It's as if someone is laughing up their fat middle-class sleeves at whoever listens to it. I first saw this CD in a mate's handbag as she was getting some drinks. I was attracted by the cover, a pencil drawing of a boy and girl - like Prince Charles and Princess Anne as infants in their nursery - recalling the Ladybird books I read when I was that age. I asked Gemma what did the record sound like and she went, "Urgh, a bit blokey, anal-retentive trainspottery every-single-copy-of-Q filling the wardrobe kind of thing. Sort of Blur pretending to be someone else." Well, I liked Blur best when they were pretending to be The Kinks so I borrowed it. I must say it's probably the most unproduced record ever - certainly since 'Bend Sinister' by The Fall (woah, how blokey Q mag am I?). And that's refreshing because I find that the records in the last couple of years are simply little more than wavering noise tones compressing music like a bus-squelched badger. Intrigued about this group, I did a bit of online research and suddenly things, instead of adding up, began falling into question-mark-shaped smithereens. One of the Bisonics is called Paul Hamilton. Is it purely coincidental that the Chris Morris 'Brass Eye' DVD has a commentary track by three junkies on the 'Drugs' episode, one of whom is Paul Hamilton? Also, Kevin Eldon - a regular actor in Chris Morris productions - had a comic character about 10 years ago, a rotten poet called Paul Hamilton. (Both Morris and Eldon are enthusiastic amateur musicians...) On the Facebook profile for Bisonics they mention being based in Queensland - Rob Brydon made a TV series set in Godzone, playing a doctor by the name of... Paul Hamilton. On the same FB profile, the band biog states that they were originally from Basingstoke - a town often used in comedy shows for a laugh, most notably in a courtroom sketch by Monty Python ("Basingstoke in Westphalia, your honour"). Eric Idle, from the Python team, made a solo series called Rutland Weekend Television, an episode of which mentions a Paul Hamilton. And, even though there is a website for the group, there's no shopping facility for buying the CD or a download. Curiouser and curiouser. Whether this record is some strange, elaborate hoax or not is immaterial. Comedians have just as much right to make 'straight' records - as indeed 'proper' rock groups are allowed to make funny ones. (In fact, I wish they would stop being po-faced and tell us a joke. The Who were so funny and so good before all that Tommy-rot.) In the chaos of the music empire meltdown, where everyone sounds like everyone else, it is so refreshing to hear instruments stripped of the reverb sludge, and unaffected, un-EFFECTed vocals, and a group that seem terrified of making any of their songs sound similar. It's the audio equivalent of the Royal Academy summer show. One hidden song, 'When I Am', sounds like an ill-advised duet between Leonard Cohen and 'Metal Box'-era John Lydon. And 'Bland Foundation' includes some insanely catchy and seriously silly lines ('It's the Bland Foundation, the Bland Foundation / Nigel Havers delivers website narration / The Bland Foundation, the Bland Foundation / Thank God you're not Malaysian'). If there's a fault with it, it's its all-over-the-placeness. But that's also its charm. Whereas most bands can spread the same idea across albums and decades, Bisonics valiantly attempt to crowbar everything in - because it might be the only chance they get. Do we give marks out of 10? I'd have said 9 but I'm docking it 1 and a bit points for the uncertainty of who these people are. So, yeah, 8:5.