Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Bad Suburban Nightmare
Bad Suburban Nightmare - Highways I
Must Die Records. CD. MDR 018
Two days of blissful wandering along the Rhine in the autumnal Dusseldorf sunshine had to have its downside and it arrived on the flight home. Crammed into the back of a 737 with the boisterous remains of a hen and stag ‘do’ desperately trying to make a pissed up weekend spin out until last orders we jointly gritted teeth and gave thanks to the fact the flight lasted less than an hour. The half dozen beers I’d had earlier in the day did the trick and I somehow managed to doze off leaving Mrs. Fisher to suffer the knob jokes, the shrieking laughter and the sounds of cans of beer being popped all to her good self. Before I dozed off I heard one of the stag party say in a loud and authoritative voice ‘I’m rounding the weekend off in style lads … I’m having a Stella’. Stella Artois being that essential watery anesthetic so beloved of those wishing to attain drunken nirvana in six easy steps. This, coming from someone who’d just spent two nights in one of the best brew cities in the world. Its enough to make you weep.
I didn’t take any music with me this time. I usually do but for once I’d thought I’d clear my head of the stuff. I’ve been listening to a lot of Soft Machine lately you see [and Kevin Ayers of course] and I needed to cleanse the palette, start afresh, give the old shell likes a rest. Which is what I did. And then today I thought I’d give Bad Suburban Nightmare a spin and my ears came back all shiny and new.
BSN is one man and his guitar, [barring a few loose drum hits and the odd plonk of piano] who creates a desolate sound that flits between Ry Cooder, Keiji Heino, Neil Young, Phil Todd, and late era John Fahey. Armed with an electric guitar and the odd pedal or two BSN watches the tumbleweed go by to an accompaniment of whammied strings, lonely notes and harmonic strum. The sparse use of notes and the laid back atmosphere of it all gives the release a supreme sense of desolation. The maudlin vocals on the first and last track which become nothing more than mumbled nothings by the time of the third add further dust to an already windswept release. The longest track on here is the one that gets the Ry Cooder comparisons, ‘Rollerskate Highway’ is pure sun bleached lizard territory and not far from Ry Cooder’s Paris Texas soundtrack only with more distortion and added eeriness. ‘Thee Angels + Th Dark’ is where the Heino comparisons come in, lots of wailing upper neck frot and chin back angst. Its to the bookends of this release where it really sinks its hooks though. In a voice that makes Bob Dylan sound like choir boy BSN sings/moans/wails about death and dead bodies and the fit is perfect.
I don’t normally go in for introspective guitar noodling but this works. I found myself being strangely hypnotized by it all. Maybe I listened to too much American guitar based music as a kid and this has dragged me back to a time when anything American sounding was to be lapped up. Whatever, no more Soft Machine for a while though.