[…continued from last post]
“White Night” was a very strong single to open with, but the ante was upped dramatically with the second song. Torch Song had set a very high standard for cover versions on their debut album with a brilliant re-imagining of “Ode To Bille Joe” as a piece of high-technopop that somehow retained its original swampy, backwater vibe in spite of that. It was nothing I’d ever imagined hearing at the time. What they did with the Steve Winwood-penned Blind Faith pop song was nothing short of miraculous.
It opened with an unresolved stray guitar chord and then the hum at the base of the universe began to swell and fill every corner of the sonic space. Like the hot breath of the gods bearing down on the nape of your neck; causing the tiny hairs all over your body to become enervated with a mixture of dread and anticipation. This song demanded a subwoofer to give it its due. Then the tribal rhythms ensued until William Orbit could be heard uttering a yelp; heralding his acid guitar licks into the mix.
Then Laurie Mayer swathed in reverb began singing the lyrics with her signature eerie if girlish calm. The psychedelic guitar harmonics of Orbit along with the crystalline synths bathed the arrangement in a cool saturated glow of otherworldly power. The bass solo had the audacity to invoke an descending jazz chord sequence that sounded ripped from a Joni Mitchell album. This was simply the most breathtaking cover I’d ever heard. Every time I listen to this [and when I do, I do it a lot – there’s no playing this song just once, when I make the effort] I am thrilled beyond compare.
Then the instrumental “Spear” kept the tribal vibe moving along albeit at a level far closer to the earth. This was a cinematic excursion into high levels of soundtrack music, but against the brilliance of the preceding song, it had to suffer a bit in comparison. “Microdot Daylight” was a delicate dreampop song with allusions to LSD but the lyrics pointed to the acid-like effects being due to another person and not necessarily drugs. Another, more brief instrumental followed. “The Pentacle,” was yet another fallback to soundtrack music styles. This time, it fell out of the Torch Song zone and sounded like something from William Orbit’s “Strange Cargo” series of instrumental albums. The fact that it was highly fragmentary and ended abruptly, as if it were an unfinished sketch, led to a sense of slight disappointment. Particularly since the heights that much of the music thus far had scaled were so very high indeed.
Next: …Orbit In Dub