I think Schnauser come from another planet. That’s not a social comment on the state of Bristol; I suspect Bristol is just the town they ended up in when the mother ship crashed. Undoubtedly finding themselves caught in a “Third Rock From The Sun” sort of scenario, they have tried to hide their origins by incongruously fitting into society in the guise of a three-piece pop band. Unfortunately the reference material they have used seems slightly out of kilter with modern trends and the resulting psychedelic strangeness, instead of hiding them covertly amongst us, calls out like a shining, if slightly deranged musical distress signal.
Beyond the Zappa-esque title and the Monty Python like artwork, The Sound of Meat, is a collection of gloriously retro soundscapes that take in Bonzo Dog Band madness, XTC wit, Beatles acid trips, Beach Boys harmonies, Byrds guitar jangle and the wanton sprinkling of every hippy era musical trick in the book and more beside. And like fellow miners at the psych-pop revival pit face, Redd Kross, they perfect the art of building throwaway tunes that you want to keep to forever.
It’s an album that wonderfully wrong foots the listener, jumping with ease from pure Woodstock vibes on Three Stones to warped space rock on Cosmic Ordering Service; dashing between crazy carnival lilts on Gorilla and then wallowing around in discarded Pet Sounds sessions for Everything is Nice. There’s even room to launch into a bit of lounge Jazz for an unlisted bonus track, all that and never once taking themselves particularly seriously. Even the apparent austerity of Justice seems to be delivered with tongues in cheeks and giggles being stifled.
And like the aforementioned Bonzo’s, the musical flippancy of the album only works because the songs are brilliantly crafted and fantastically executed. Seamless changes in timing, style and genre, even within individual songs, keep the experience fresh, amusing and not to mention a little bit quirky. But quirky is good, right?
You could see this album as one arm of a flared trousered pincer movement, the other headed up by fellow time traveller Anton Barbeau, a movement designed to combat the bland self-aggrandisement and conformity of current musical trends. The planet is a better place for bands like Schnauser and their take on world. It’s a world as documented by madmen or child like innocents…or by aliens. See, I told you!