Phantom Power, the new album by the Super Furry Animals is named after a switch you see on lots of mini-amps. It is a switch, and associated light, which has also beguiled me. What is this phantom power, how can it seemingly power the amp to greater heights? Is there some kind of eldritch tap into a parallel spirit world where tortured souls are squeezed dry for drops of electricity Could we run the National Grid on this (could the West Coast of the US already be using this system). Or is it some sort of David Blainesque sleight of hand trick to make the unit think it is getting more juice from somewhere when no such thing is happening. Prestidigitation of the ampere – electrickery if you will*.
The truth is actually a lot more mundane (though the picture of the Phantom in the article peps it up a touch. Equally the album by the Super Furries is exactly what you would expect; it has a few pop fizzles, sounds a bit more like Pink Floyd in places than they used to, but generally rather nice. They were a band I was happy to rave about and they have now grown older gracefully. There is no novelty in Gruff’s odd voice anymore, just craft and we are supposed to hate that around here – right? Well sometimes comfort is all you want, and perhaps Phantom Power is running on empty, using what is left of their skills exactly where they need it, but it’ll sit happily in my CD Walkman for a couple of weeks.
*My debt to Catweazle for this joke is duly noted.