The Soundcarriers raid and regurgitate decades of rare vinyl so you don’t have to, recombining their findings in a hallucinatory record collector’s fever dream of found sound. Kitsch exotica from 1950s, 1960s Carnaby Street exploitation, 1970s German progressive percussion and swinging South American Tropicalia merge their time streams seamlessly in the soundtrack to a spiked cocktail night out in the composite European capital city of the collective subconscious. Let the epic groove of This Is Normal puncture the irony membrane and you’re sold.
There’s a moment around two and a half minutes into ‘Signal Blue’ when the song’s lazy, loping groove breaks down and returns, twice as fast, re-invented as a velour-age exploitation film soundtrack – equal parts spaghetti western, British pagan horror and Italian soft porn. It sums up the Soundcarriers well as anything eke in their catalogue. These sonic crossroads may be subtle but they appear frequently throughout the Nottingham quartet’s recording, which, with the addition of this fourth long-player (third album ‘proper’), are shaping up to be one of our most desirable discographies in recent years.
2009s Harmonium and its follow-up, Celeste, established Adam, Pish, Dorian and Leonore as fine purveyors of analogue musical thrills rooted firmly in the past but with their eyes on the future. Last year’s The Other World Of The Soundcarriers may have been a largely instrumental outing built around rough mixes and works in progress but it still managed to stand up as a bona fide album, so warm is its glow.
So it’s in a climate of excited anticipation that Entropicalia arrives, four years in the making and the first fruit of a heavenly partnership with Jim Jupp and Julian House’s bespoke Ghost Box imprint. The fastidious approach to groove, sound and structure that has elevated the Soundcarriers’ work to the top of the pile of similarly ‘authentic’ releases of late is present and correct, as is their innate sense of light and shade.
The 12-minute version of ‘This Is Norma’, fleetingly issued in edited form as a single in 2012 and featuring ‘Carriers fan Elijah Wood’s deadpan spoken monologue (‘Do not resist, do not open the box.’ he intones over the squelching, Hammond lead jam) is the centrepiece, cushioned by nine shorter pieces that draw expertly on the band’s eclectic and immaculate influences. The compressed click bass of Melody Nelson-era Serge Gainsbourg, The Free Design’s ethereal vocal constructions, Tropicalia’s sun-kissed lunacy and Ennio Morricone’s peerless soundtracks to Theorem, Le Foto Proibite di una Signora Per Bene and countless other late ‘60s / early ‘70s Euro flicks all leap to mind, shot through as always with a heavy dose of rhythm-based motorik. In short, these guys are a crate digger’s dream made flesh.
Listeners yet to partake shouldn’t be afraid of encountering impenetrable slabs of droning electronica; there are four human hearts beating within this music, making it at once accessible, challenging and exhilarating.
On the new front, the forecast is sunny with showers. The Soundcarriers return and on the prestigious Ghost Box, a label very suited to them. Fans of the band will be thrilled to hear them layer their distinct sound even more on Entropicalia, a staggeringly rich and dense album on which the group lock into a groove with something that The Strawberry Alarm Clock, Ennio Morricone and Can may have cooked up together. That RC’s favourite record-collecting hobbit, Elijah Wood, turns up is also rather nice.