30
Nov 00

IAN CRAUSE – Elemental

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Like Life Without Buildings, this is on Tugboat Records, who make their CDs lovely, with fold-over waxy cardboard sleeves. There’s a strict two-tracker policy going on, so I’d guess the aesthetic is to get CD singles as beautiful and contained as old 7″ singles were, which is an admirable longshot given that the 7″ musical format is the most perfect ever devised. This is not nostalgia talking: great as the music we now enjoy is, it would be greater yet if the discipline, simplicity and balance of the A-Side/B-Side format were maintained. Now, for example, a band like Blur can record up to six B-Sides for each ‘A’, which is bad for them and bad for us. But back then the 7″ form was the pivot between a pop payoff and experimentation, or stupidity or fraud or arbitrary beauty: whatever the artist desired and could muster.

The same balance – between a simple hook, and all those other things – was what drove Disco Inferno, too. Towards the end, as the hooks got better and the other things rubbed ever more fiercely against them, you could tell Ian Crause was feeling the strain of it, and so they split up nastily and we heard no more of him, until a funny, mad interview this year where he said he’d re-invented music, and a gig last month, and now this. There’s a William Blake painting on the cover, and the record seems so ordinary somehow. Quite high-caliber indie pop, commercial in that it’s got a tune, but nobody will buy it. No spark, too. He’s still got his old, fragile voice but the record sounds too busy, like the Lightning Seeds, or a fleshier Chameleons.

I don’t like it, though I think it’ll grow on me. Maybe I’ll wind up liking it a lot. But we should remind ourselves that almost every experimental pop band in Britain can or should trace a line of descent back to Disco Inferno. Crause dedicates the record to a bunch of people, and then says “For no one else”, so either he’s still rightly annoyed about DI, or he knows but doesn’t care that this is a disappointing single, or most likely both. I hope he’s doing something that makes him very happy, but I also hope that in the end it works out better than this.

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