New Third Lanark – Craig Ward

I have to confess that as I dropped the CD into the player I thought, “anything could happen in the next half hour.” Then again I tend to think something similar with every Jezus Factory release I receive, they is not a label to be approached with preconceptions or already informed opinion. And if that is the case for the label, it is certainly the case for the artist in question, Craig Ward.  Everything about the presentation of the album, from song titles to album art to tag line “solo guitar improvisations” is enough to make you question what the hell you are getting involved in here. Add to that a back catalogue of work that runs from the dance infused dEUS, improvisational jazz rock with the wonderfully named A Clean Kitchen is a Happy Kitchen, more conventional if brooding and weather beaten folk alongside Mark Mulholland and even production credits (alongside Steve Albini) for The Frames. Life may be like a box for chocolates (thank you Forrest) but how palatable are they actually going to be. There’s only one way to find out.

 

Ignoring the intriguing track titles such as Blazes as in Dixons and Tropic of Bennett) which probably mean little outside Craig’s own world what you get is pretty much what it says on the tin. These guitar improvisations take the form of electric guitar meanderings run through an array of effects and technical gadgetry, the overall affect been warped and wandering, often invoking what music might sound like if guitars were able to take Ketamine.

 

Don’t look for any obvious hooks or conventional structures; this is the sound of decay and windswept beauty, dark, foreboding and non-corporeal. Sustained lines tumble down and fade away like mist or merge into the next bank of sound. It is spiteful, industrial, directionless and sinister.  For all that it is strangely wonderful as long as you don’t pre-judge it, examine it or look for reasons. Maybe some music just is and contented to be so.

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