Shriekback: Some Kinds of Light UK CD 
- Agony Box
- Bollo Rex
- Putting All The Lights Out
- All About Nothing
- This Is The Science
- The Fire Has Brought Us Together
- The Elated World (Cornell Boxes)
Is it early December already? It seemed like only yesterday [cue harp run…] that Shriekback had run a successful Indiegogo campaign to fund group writing sessions and the recording of their latest album, “Some Kinds of Light.” While we were caught up in our own personal drama, The Shrieks have diligently done what they alone do best and have delivered their new album, as promised, “by Xmas.” My CD has not yet arrived from across the Big Drink, but I finally found the time to load the WAV files provided to all sponsor as of December 6th [official release day!] on my iPod the other night, so let’s dive into the Shriekback bucket and report our findings with a some of the usual considered musings and a [hopefully] commensurate uptick in gut-level reaction!
Mr. Andrews drew first blood with the potent “Agony Box.” It began small with a bass synth riff and Martyn Barker on the floor toms but it eventually built up to a suitably anguished roar against the impossibility of compartmentalizing all of that pain out there in the zeitgeist. The middle eight chorus of multiple Andrews intoning “agony is your friend” brought to mind the famous Sanskrit mantras from “Running On The Rocks.”
The point of crowdsourcing the writing of the new album was immediately apparent as the central role that drummer Barker obviously played in the compositions this time was certainly all about the groove that he was putting out for these songs to build upon. “Bollo Rex” was all about the jazzdrums that Andrews added organ drone and Carl Marsh added guitar roar to.
But the drums were central here; Andrews was his typical verbose self and included a lyric that kicked into doubletime on the middle eight with as many politically pithy observations as he could jam into the song as possible. Making it a real throwback to his delivery on “Win A Night Out With A Well-Known Paranoiac” B-side of 1980. It can’t be a coincidence that he was revisiting that material for reissue recently and now the technique popped up again after a 39 year tabling. The cold break for several seconds after Andrews intoned “there was a long pause…” for the third time in the middle eight was freaky powerful arrangement, before the grinding vibe again resumed. The coda spiraled into chaos with a complete psychedelic breakdown of the track while a narrator recited what seemed to be parts of a poem over it all.
Following this sound and fury, it was time for a change of pace, and Carl Marsh on vocals for “Putting All The Lights Out.” This was a low key throwback to an early 70s sound with meandering Hammond organ patches and reverberant Fender Rhodes piano from Andrews while Marsh opted for some deep twang. The catlike song was perfect for late night listening and the glorious Partridge Sisters on backing vocals added delightfully to the vibe.
Mr. Andrews was still investigating his clavinet for that mid-70s funk feel on the Marsh-led “Weatherman.” Then the eerie trills of his lead synth along with the deep bass synth gave this one a smoky power that the tribal drums of Barker exacerbated. At the song’s midpoint, Barker expanded the narrow channel of rhythm that he’d previously hewed close to and widened his approach with greater complexity and fills as Andrews’ keys carried the melody forward. There seemed to be no guitars at all in this one.
That couldn’t be said for the third turn of Marsh in the spotlight for the stripped down groovy protest rock of “All About Nothing” He took a great semi-acid rock solo on the middle eight to spar with the spacey bass synth and organ fills of Andrews, who seemed to be sticking to a deliberately limited palette of sound design this for this album. He might have gotten any eclecticism out of his system on his recent solo album; As ever, the drums of Mr. Barker add the pulsebeat that seemed to almost flashback to the Madchester era. Dig, if you will, the picture…below.
Next: …Big Science
I was the biggest Shriekback fan for a while but they end for me at Oil And Gold. I was huge into Big Night Music in college, and seeing them live on that tour was a highlight, but now that album and all that has come after basically leave me cold. Unfortunately nothing I’ve heard from this new one looks set to change my mind. I’m glad they’re still doing their thing, but it just doesn’t do it for me.
jsd – I came to the party on “Care” and that was a big thing for me. Where I lived, I never saw “Jam Science” and only got that one in the 90s. So when “Oil + Gold” dropped, I can remember being astounded at the huge paradigm shift between “Care” and that one if one had never heard “Jam Science.” “Of course, losing Marsh after “Oil + Gold” changed the complexion of the band on “Big Night Music,” but time has seen that one become a go-to Shriekback album for me. I’m more prone to listen to it than “Oil + Gold” and dearly wish I had ever seen Shriekback at any time, really.
Of course, “Go Bang” was a huge letdown. The Mid-80s Malaise® came home to roost, but hard, on that one! Then they seemed to break up at that point and it actually made sense to me at the time. I bought the “Dancing Years” compilation that seemed like a contractual obligation since it was not really a “greatest hits” in the strictest sense of the word. I thought the newly recorded material there had promise, and when they resurfaced with “Sacred City,” I was elated that they had gone back to revisit some of the “Care” vibe. To my ears, anyway. Leaving the, in retrospect, disastrous attempt at commerciality that was “Go Bang” to turn to dust, thankfully. And since then it had been nearly 30 years of releases; most of them all but impossible to buy except directly from the band.
They are definitely not the band that made “Oil + Gold,” except for in artistic P.O.V., so the sounds they’ve made since then have been more acoustic and diverse. I think that last two point back to “Big Night Music” most of all, but it’s a pity that does nothing for your ears. Me? I’m happy that at least one of my favorite bands still active have managed to make two albums in two years now! It’s like I have to pinch myself to wake up but it’s really happening. Most of my faves, if still active, are caught up in that whole stately 3-5 year “campaign” groove thang.
Looks like you’ve just danced around the pre-game for a Shriek GPA… Maybe with the new record hot off the presses, the time has come (age of the Hamme… …nevermind).
JT – Don’t think I haven’t thought all about this for years but the sad fact is that I still need “Glory Bumps” and “Life In The Loading Bay” and those Malicious Damage discs are difficult to source! I managed to find the “Cormorant” 2008 DLX RM at an Amoeba during my run of the chain in 2014. [checks Malicious Damage website in a flash of inspiration…] HOLY TOLEDO! The MD webstore still has “Glory Bumps” CD for £8.00 and the extravagantly packaged “Shriekback’s Rapture Ready Endtime Advent Calendar” 2xLP edition of the same [3 bonus trax not on CD] at the £25 list!!! Now all I need is money!!
I hear ya jsd, but do give these a listen:
Glory Bumps (2007)
Life in the Loading Bay (December 2010)
Without Real String or Fish (March 2015)
And I have to say, Why This? Why Anything?
They desperately need an anthology highlighting their many amazing songs over the last 30 years!
Gerald McBoing-Boing – That is such an obvious idea that if it were a snake it would have bit me! Let’s revisit this topic one day soon.
I confess I haven’t much kept up with the band’s modern output, but I did like the sound of that video! To me, this sounds like what a Shriekback song should sound like, so well done boys and looking forward to investigating back through the catalog a bit!
chasinvictoria – Did you not get copies of “Why Anything? Why This?” and “Contaminated Pop” that I sent you for your, uh, birthday this year????
No time like the present! I put this together some years back and there’s been a number of releases since then so it could use an update or additional disc. I chose to create a career-spanning anthology, though you could make a good argument for just covering the post-Oil & Gold output since the early material is well compiled. My guidelines:
– Two discs, no more than 80 minutes per ‘disc’
– Every major release should be represented
– Include the very best of the non LP material
Exquisite Corpse: The Shriekback Anthology
Sexthinkone (from Tench)
A Kind Of Fascination (from Tench)
Accretions (from Tench)
My Spine Is The Bassline (non LP single)
Lined Up (from Care)
Cleartrails (from Care)
Sway (from Care)
Working On The Ground (non LP single)
Hand On My Heart (from Jam Science)
Partyline (from Jam Science)
Mercy Dash (from Jam Science)
Everything That Rises Must Converge (from Oil & Gold)
Fish Below The Ice (from Oil & Gold)
Faded Flowers (from Oil & Gold)
Nemesis (from Oil & Gold)
Black Light Trap (from Big Night Music)
Underwaterboys (from Big Night Music)
The Reptiles And I (from Big Night Music)
Dust And A Shadow (from Go Bang!)
White Out (from The Dancing Years)
Signs (from Sacred City)
Exquisite Corpse (from Sacred City)
Beatles Zebra Crossing (from Sacred City)
Pond Life (from Naked Apes And Pond Life)
Invisible Rays (from Naked Apes And Pond Life)
Berlin (from Naked Apes And Pond Life)
Captain Cook (non LP single)
More Heat Than Light (from Having A Moment)
God’s Gardenias (from Having A Moment)
Sea Theory (from Cormorant)
Reason With The Beast (from Cormorant)
Voiled Karletus (from Cormorant)
Hooray For Everything (from Glory Bumps)
Mahalia (from Glory Bumps)
Semidelicious (from Life In The Loading Bay)
Running With The Mothmen (from Life In The Loading Bay)
The Flowers Of Angst (from Life In The Loading Bay)
My Vast Behaviour (from Life In The Loading Bay bonus disc)
Gerald McBoing-Boing – That is a delicious compilation you have hypothesized there! Alas, I still need to hear “Glory Bumps” and “Life In The Loading Bay,” so I can only nod uncomprehendingly at your suggestions there. But I may be amiss in pointing out that “Without Real String Or Fish,” “Why Anything? Why This?” And “Some Kinds Of Light” are sadly missing from your track list. Not forgetting the notion of whether “The Elated World” is a canonical Shriekback album or not in the presses as well! [any takers on that conundrum?] With nearly 40 years of history, might not a 3xCD be called for here?
And what the hell is “Captain Cook?”
As I mentioned, I made that compilation about 4 years ago and would need to update it with picks from the albums you mentioned as well as “The Island Of Hopeful Monsters”.
“Captain Cook” was from a CDR they sold back in the day. It’s far too great to be a lost treasure:
Gerald McBoing-Boing – Yumpin’ Yimminy! So this was one of your own CD-R projects? Rock on! Alas, I ordered a copy of “The Island Of Hopeful Monsters” but there were…complications. Fortunately, Mr. Andrews did a make good of some other titles. But I STILL can’t see where “Captain Cook” was released! It’s missing from the band’s Discogs profile. If it was a CD-R they sold, it’s not been put into their profile on Discogs.com yet, and there’s some real Shriek-heads keeping that up to date.
This page has the details: http://www.cleartrails.com/shrk_d.html
Search for “Berlin Remixes”
Gerald McBoing-Boing – There’s always something new under the sun!
we’re looking into putting out a prettily boxed 3 CD thing of the Mal.Dam. albums in the new year. Mike Coles is onboard.
Shrieks – Welcome to the comments! Excellent news, since I only managed to track down the 2009 “Cormorant” reissue! “Life In The Loading Bay” is impossible to buy without breaking the bank. And Coles does such a great job with the design! Why should Killing Joke have all of the fun? Well folks, you heard if here first from the Shrieks’ mouth! Count me in and presumably this issue box will be of the executive versions with all of the requisite bonus tracks. But that doesn’t mean that I still don’t want the Advent calendar version of “Glory Bumps!”
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