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a.P.A.t.T. - Fun With Music CD (album) cover




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5 stars "Fun with music" is a very fitting title for this album, because the band apparently had a lot of fun here, as will the listener. The album sees the band playing around with various different styles and building blocks from the big reservoir of popular music along with bringing in some of their own elements to put together a quite unique and idiosyncratic mixture.

The dominating mood is lively and circus-/funfair-like with some nice folk elements and instrumentation (violins, glockenspiel etc.; also they like a 3/4 funfair organ grinder rhythm). There are melodies aplenty but mostly you won't get too much time to appreciate them because the listener is usually very quickly guided to the next attraction before getting too settled on any single one, although there is the occasional song that plays out its atmosphere over the whole time without being interrupted by sharp contrasts (as happens elsewhere on the album). One example for more consistent songwriting is the melancholic Did You See The Sea,. Ploth Kep starts off like a North Sea Radio Orchestra chamber folk instrumental and sticks to its motifs while building up quite some intensity toward the end, like a carousel taking on speed - but at least it remains the same carousel that had started the song off slowly. Matter of Fact is a pretty straight but pleasant and dynamic instrumental; oh well, I just listen to it again and it's straight compared with other a.P.A.t.T music, which doesn't mean "straight" by less relative standards at all.

Some other tracks are short "style studies"; Regards is a melodic choir piece, The Easiness of Today's Kinder Egg Toys is 1980s trash electronic, Take The Bait gives us a more modern techno dance rhythm, although the band apparently found this too annoying on its own, so it added in some diabolical left field elements of their own to make it develop into its very own joyful nightmare. Generally, despite apparently loving accessible melodies, they also have the odd go at atonal outbursts, and they certainly don't resist the idea of putting both of these elements (and some others) together in the same song. On Give My Regards To Bold St, they surprise us with some sleek sharp complex music that could almost qualify as innovative prog to be taken seriously.

The whole album is full of nice little ideas to spice up their offerings such as the crazy and addictive double beat that is scattered into You Treat Me (Like Peter Shit) to make the whole thing stutter and shake your head and body up.

I haven't mentioned a number of songs but it's not that these are unremarkable, rather they throw together the already listed ingredients and some more and I just don't know how I do them justice not being as versatile as a writer as they are as band.

Obvious associations are Frank Zappa's music (one of the male voices also sounds pretty Zappa-ish, although I like the female singers on the album more; you are treated to quite a range of voices here) and Cardiacs and their spin-offs without the punk guitars. Another element not mentioned yet is some end-70s/early 80s artsy fun New Wave as can be heard from Devo or the Sparks. The first Mr Bungle album also comes to mind. Altogether this is a stunningly complex and bewildering mix.

I'm now struggling whether this is four or five stars. What's there to criticise? Well, I guess the frequent contrasts and style changes may feel to some listeners (and even me at times) a bit strenuous and forced. But if I make the effort to really get into it, I'm just amazed by the richness of this album. So overall I now have convinced myself to rate it five. It achieves brilliantly what it sets out to do, fun and madness, energy and even some beauty (and some very inventive arrangements and good playing), and if I crave for something more consistent it won't eat all my other music, I guess, so it doesn't do any harm that this isn't music for all occasions.

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Posted Sunday, March 5, 2017 | Review Permalink

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