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Cardiacs - A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window CD (album) cover





4.29 | 304 ratings

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5 stars Imagine The Cure freaking out on acid crossed with Captain Beefheart, IQ, The Smiths and The Residents and you have The Cardiacs, one of the strangest bands you've never heard of. Led by multi-talented head-banger Tim Smith, The Cardiacs emerged at some point in the mid-1980's, sporting a bizarre sonic hybrid of progressive rock and punk - called 'Pronk' by some - and a manic intensity which quickly won them a hardcore loyal following made up of a genuine cross-section of sub-sceners, ranging from goths to punks to rockers and the occasional mental patient. The enigmatic Smith, who had, since his very early teens been devouring literally thousands of records of all kinds, began - like some crazed mad professor - stitching together sounds and textures from bands as diverse as of The Damned, The Sex Pistols, The Stranglers, Pink Floyd and Genesis, thus brewing up his highly-charged musical bastardization to the utter amazement of anyone who dared to listen. A first album, 1984's 'The Seaside', would prove a bold, low-budget start, with Smith(guitar, vocals) joined by a collection of similarly-inclined and utterly bonkers musicians such as William D. Drake(keyboards), Jim Smith(bass), Sarah Smith(sax) and Dominic Luckman(drums), all of whom also possessed phenomenal musical abilities to go with their weirdo-goth-punk sensibilities. 'The Seaside' would prove an engaging beginning but it would be the follow-up album 'A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window' that would really put The Cardiacs on the map. Retaining the zany psych-rock of it's predecessor but amping up the prog aspects, album no.2 proved to be anything but the cliched 'second difficult album' it was meant to be. Indeed, 'A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window' is seen by both Cardiacs fans and music critics alike as the group's magnus opus, featuring as it does the classic rockers 'Is This The Life' and 'In A City Lining', both of which feature screeching guitars, thick slabs of neo-prog keyboards and Smith's trademark lunatic-jester vocals. As one un-named commentator so succinctly put it: 'The Cardiacs feature more ideas in one song than most band's do in their entire careers'; he's not wrong. Each song on this glorious anti-pop album features an abundance of creativity with anarchic punk aesthetics and complex prog riffs strapped together and injected with thuddering bass-lines, shimmering synths, squawking saxophones, glass- shattering guitars, sweeping orchestral soundbites, moody post-punk textures and catchy pop rhythms - often all at once. There is little as purposefully absurd as Tim Smith and his rampant cohorts in full flow. For those of you out there who are prepared to take a step into the unknown, hidden treasures await. Imagine Marillion jamming with Throbbing Gristle and 'Trout Mask Replica'-era Beefheart and you're halfway there, but even that unholy mix fails to be as insanely original as 'A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window'. Just like the best foods in life The Cardiacs leave you screaming for more, their wonderfully perverse brew of sounds and styles proving as addictive as crack, as exciting as sex and as inventive as anything by the 1970's-era progressive rock greats. A truly fabulous album. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
stefro | 5/5 |


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