The next album was the “Aerosol Burns” And Other Misdemeanours” collection. This was a collection of the ten A/B-sides from 1978 and 1981 not already accounted for on the first two LPs. “Aerosol Burns” was the debut, which felt like The Charleston could almost be danced to its stop/start tempos. The “World Friction” B-side was a shockingly straightforward sax-driven Reggae instrumental that gave little hint of the surprises that the immediate future held for this fledgling band. The rest of the program dated from 1981 and later, and positioned the band a little further in from the Avant Garde leanings of the album that came in between.
The philosophical precis of the ’81 single “Music Is A Better Noise” sagely noted that “the universe was crumbling” in its chorus. “Moontown’s'” jangling guitars almost hinted at a Postcard influence but the filtered vocal effects soon brought us out of our reverie. But the C81 track and single “Fanfare In The Garden” winningly dipped its toes in the jangle-centric sound but with the gorgeous middle eight where the tempo slowed for a haunting sax/glockenspiel duet. Yesterday I invoked Nina Hagen and the 1983 track “Soul” certainly evoked not only Hagan in vocals but the backing track came within a hair’s breadth of what Hagen and Moroder were doing simultaneously on “Zarah.”
The Macintosh Plus on the cover of the fourth album, “No More Fiction” was maybe a dozen years out of date to mark the cover of what was supposed to have been the third Essential Logic album of 1998, but who’s counting? The material was noticeably smoother and more melodious than the frankly frenetic early tracks. The self-referential track “Essential Logic” stunned as it showcased an entirely new Lora Logic at the mic. Her swoops and vocal dive bombs of the early period was a distant memory as she was moving toward a breathy, melodic style closer to what Tom Tom Club traditionally delivered. The stripped down, more minimal Funk of the music bed heard her vocals and agreed to meet her half way.
The winning Power Pop of “On The Internet” showed a new sound that Essential Logic were exploring. The lilting title track was another serving of breathy pop far from the kinetic early days of this band. But the inability of Lora Logic to serve up banalities never meant that any excursions into more conventional sounds were in any way a compromise. Ms. Logic was put here to give us cliché-free music. No matter what it sounded like.
The ambient chillout vibe of “Love Eternal” perhaps pointed the way to the band’s future, as the Balearic cut was exactly the sort of vibe that Youth had made his name on in the 90s, but he won’t enter the story for another 24 years! I loved the almost coffee-house vibe of “The Beautiful + the Damned” with Lora’s beautiful vocal couched in flute and acoustic guitars and almost-there brushed drums. The quality of this unreleased 90s album was certainly of a high standard; making its non-release at the time a small tragedy.
The fifth album leapt a quarter century into the present with “Land Of Kali” with a striking image of Lora as the demon Kali on its cover. The first song was a new version of “Prayer For Peace” which had been written by Poly Styrene for the 1996 X-Ray Spex album “Conscious Consumer” which had reunited the band for their second [and final] album; apart from live sets issued later. The result was a languid, sun dappled vibe; complete with wind chimes in the intro as the music existed to wash over the listener, removing any tensions they might be harboring. Having Youth produce these sessions made complete an utter sense as this might just end up being the ultimate chill-out album I’ve ever heard.
Synth glissandos vamped with the sax for “Alien Boys” for a throbbing, yet still laid-back track that contained Lora Logic’s haunting vocals invoking the alien boys of the song in the chorus that swirled around the listener like the verdant clouds of vapor depicted on the album cover. As headphone listening, this album was shaping up to be an unparalleled experience.
A pivot to Reggae for “Mother Earth” allowed Youth to indulge into heavy dub effects with the vocals while [presumably] his own bass held down the rhythm with the distant-sounding drums. “Never Know” played like the most gorgeous Yoko Ono song imaginable with Lora’s delicate, gentle delivery in the foreground vocals while her backing vocals were soaring into the firmament.
Percolating waves of synthesizer pulsed through the gentle Soul Jazz of “Charming Every Cupid” while the drums gave this as prominent a beat as we’d heard here. The hazy sax supporting the sustained string patches, adding to the gorgeous slowness on offer here. The downtempo Ibiza vibe was unforced and as natural as sunlight here. This was a club album with a lower case “c” and suitable for Sunday morning chillout. A featherlight touch had been applied to the music and I was loving the healing environment of the music.
“Sky Rocket” featured Lora’s vocals on the verses having a radically different phrasing, far from the breathy style she used on the chorus here and elsewhere. Her vocal came close to emulating the Indian scales and tones familiar to me from early Sheila Chandra albums. And the buttery saxes that migrated to Jazz by the coda of the song added only to its plushness.
The closest thing to Rock music here was the surprising “Serious” with its prominent backbeat and crunchy guitars, but the mix was designed to subdue all of the aggression that the song could have contained. The sense of containment spoke to the paradox of investing what could have been Garage Rock within the context of an album designed to leach any tension from the listener; not build it up! This was utterly fascinating music; content to subvert expectation in service of the artist’s vision which was stamped throughout the entire album most capably.
Every ounce of the surprisingly funky “Fallible Soldiers” screamed at me with a familiarity I have been wracking my failing brains for over a week now to identify to no avail! Every aspect of the thick vibe here was utterly familiar to me; as were the multi-tracked vocals by Lora Logic. I had to admit; never had Hare Krishna philosophy been rendered in such an appealing groove to these ears. If anyone can listen to this and suggest what, in the thousands of releases in my Record Cell this might be redolent of, I’d be very grateful.
The Soul Jazz of the supremely funky title track could have been on a 50 year old album; the perfect mixture of percussion and saxes. The conga grooves would just not quit and the hint of synthesizer was icing on the cake of this dancefloor filler. Then came the swaggering groove of the concluding track, “Beyond” with its tarpit rhythm guitar and glorious saxes, strings, and voices coalescing into a dazzling finale to this album.
This album was an incredibly powerful return to the studio for someone who had not released any recordings since the lost 1990s sessions [“No More Fiction”] were released on Kill Rock Stars 2003 “Fanfare In The Garden” compilation. If we want to get nit-picky, Ms. Logic had not released a discreet album commercially in the 40 years between “Pedigree Charm” and “Land Of Kali!” And “Pedigree Charm” already showed an amazing progress from the early Essential Logic material. Which was more than met by the sophistication and power of “Land Of Kali.”
Youth’s production was top drawer for the material and it balanced all of the material carefully into a mesmeric whole where the commonalities of the material were emphasized instead of diminished for a vibe that could last for days. I loved how any aggression in the music had been planed off for a dream-like tranquility. The only other producer I can think of off the top of my head who I’d trust with Essential Logic in the studio today, apart from Youth, would be Dr. Robert of The Blow Monkeys. And I can imagine Mr. Howard being quite the fan of this album.
This box did have a sixth disc, but it was a 7″ single with the unedited versions of “Prayer for Peace” and the amazing “Beyond” in their full length 6:30 and 5:58 mixes. The streaming and DL version of “Land of Kali” have longer edits of several tracks that were cut for the LP pressings, so these were included as a bonus for the box from the UK dealer, Cargo Records. Though with that track length, perhaps a 12″ single would have been a better thought. Actually, my mind reels at the thought of a 5 x 12″ boxed version of “Land Of Kali” not unlike what Spandau Ballet did with “Diamond” 40 years ago!
I went into this examination of the works of Lora Logic with a curiosity and strong interest from knowing her history if not music, and I emerge from the experience a dyed-in-the-wool fan! My world has been impoverished without this music in my life for the last 45 years. But the appearance of this boxed set showed that it’s never too late to let this music into your life, and her latest album was utterly compelling.
“Logically Yours” is already out in the UK and Cargo Records have the full deluxe bundle with the bonus 7″ and tote bag as shown below for £118.99. In the US, the 5xLP Box will be on sale at Rough Trade at $169.99 [free shipping] on January 6th, with the “Land Of Kali” LP/CD available separately this Friday, December 23rd. No home should be without some or all of this music, so act accordingly. It’s a shoo-in for reissue of the year on my upcoming year-end list. Yes, I know it will also include Associates, Billy MacKenzie and Ultravox.
UK LP BOX + 7″/Tote Bag
US LP BOX or “LAND OF KALI” LP/CD