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Nirvana - Local Anaesthetic  CD (album) cover

LOCAL ANAESTHETIC

Nirvana

 

Proto-Prog

2.20 | 14 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
2 stars One has to keep in mind while listening to this album that there were a lot of mind-altering substances floating around in the late sixties and, while some of them may have “opened” people’s minds, others had a tendency to dull one’s ability to distinguish between personal perception and reality. That’s a nice way of saying that a lot of late sixties and early seventies music sounded much better to the people playing it than to those who were listening. The music on this album falls into that category.

I really hate to write negative things about this record because it is housed in what I consider to be one of the truly great and timeless album covers of all time. The very creepy and frozen mother being tended to by her sardonic daughter against a backdrop of a barren and whited-out house with a dilapidated fireplace and Patrick Campbell-Lyons looking away from a side window was a scene just full of symbolism and fodder for ill-informed discussion among impressionable young teens who may have been dabbling in some substance-driven mind-alteration themselves. Too bad for me I never discovered these guys back in the day, but I can imagine some of the weird conversations among those who did.

This is really a solo album since Campbell-Lyons’ writing partner Alex Spyropoulos had moved on by this point and the duo had long since abandoned the pretense of the group being anything more than just the two of them although occasional guests and session musicians would continue to appear on their records and in rare live appearances even after the quartet recruited after their first album’s success had all gone their separate ways.

But despite great packaging the music doesn’t live up to expectations. It’s pretty evident Spyropoulos’ arrangements made more of a contribution to the Nirvana sound than Campbell-Lyons may have cared to admit. While the first handful of the albums by the two are really closer to well-constructed pop than progressive rock, this one is almost the opposite – pretty progressive arrangements but so loosely constructed as to appear almost improvised at times (and probably it was). The most immediate comparison I could make would be to some of the stuff Marc Bolan did pre-T. Rex (‘A Beard of Stars’ comes to mind). One major difference though is that the guitar work on this record is decidedly heavier with blues riffs and less about either psych fuzz or folk-inspired chords like Bolan tended toward before he became a glam king (or queen, whatever).

The record consists of two songs, one (“Modus Operandi”) being this lengthy sort of mess that starts off as a promising avant-jazz tune before quickly descending into hollow vocal cries and eventually an almost boogie motif with frequent yet random and disjointed tempo, instrument and mood changes and vocals that may tell a story but honestly I can’t be bothered to try and figure this one out.

“Home” is in suite form with unoriginally-labeled sections. Campbell-Lyons is quite a bit more disciplined here, with each section being fairly contiguous, and all of them fit together nicely. There are some issues, namely the opening salutation dragging on far too long and the ‘destruction’ section threatening to sound like a Tommy James pop-rock tune but managing to just barely avoid doing so. Otherwise the back side of the record is pretty good stuff, though I can’t say it holds up all that well after nearly forty years. Then again, there’s a lot of other stuff from that period that hasn’t aged even this well.

I’d really like to give this record three stars, but honestly unless you are either a strong fan of the band or of acid folk in general I doubt you’ll find much to like here, so two it is but probably the best two star album I've ever reviewed. If you are then by all means I’d recommend looking this one up; otherwise stick to the better-known classics of the genre.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 2/5 |

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