I, Thighpaulsandra (Eskaton)
~review by Uncle Nemesis
As Julian Cope would doubtless have it, here's one for the real heads.
This double CD package is a towering, sprawling, gloriously indulgent psychedelic krautrock trip, stopping off along the way at avant-jazz and ambient and all stations in between, and featuring among its many collaborators assorted members of Coil, Spiritualized, and even the Arch-Drude Cope himself. As if that wasn’t enough, the thank-you list on the inlay card namechecks everyone from glam-punkers Rachel Stamp to Geoff Downes (yep, that bloke out of Buggles who went on to join Yes) and, erm, Lord Yatesbury. Not what you’d call your usual Livejournal friends list, that’s for sure.
So, who is this strangely-named artist who can muster such a bizarre array of friends and conspirators? Thighpaulsandra (or Timothy Lewis, as he hasn’t been known for a good few years now) is (con)currently the keyboard player and all-round electronicist in Coil, Spiritualized, and, rather more sporadically, Julian Cope’s groups. This is the first of his sporadic solo outpourings (there have been more since this CD was released) - although to call ‘I, Thighpaulsandra’ a solo effort is really rather misleading, containing as it does contributions from so many fellow space travellers.
There’s also no way of summing up the music in one pithy phrase, although ‘somewhere between Hawkwind and the KLF’ might give you Thighpaulsandra’s general location. Having said that, track one disc one is ‘Lycraland’ - an angular jazz-opera, and a frankly frightening experience if you were perhaps expecting something at least tangentally related to rock music. But then ‘The Angelica Declaration’ breaks the mood as it slams in with a big, bad, diluted-pupil groove, Thighpaulsandra addressing us like a mad Roman emperor: ‘More livestock! More suction!’
‘Optical Black’ leads us into a different headspeace, all half-heard voices, machine noises, and alarming, swelling chords, like somebody’s messing with the Devil’s Wurlitzer. And for those who want a bit of that ol’ spacey ambience, ‘Michel Publicity Window’ drifts and hums, with a plangent steel guitar punctuating the rolling clouds of sound like little shafts of sunlight. This, I suppose, is Thighpaulsandra’s answer to the KLF’s ‘Chill Out’, and it works very well. Could’ve done with a few train noises, mind.
Over on disc 2, we find such delights as the whomping psycho-pop anthem, ‘We, The Descending’ and the ecclesiastical flotation tank experience that is ‘Limping Across The Sky’. There’s ‘Home Butt Club’, a rocket-fuelled instrumental that could be something Led Zep would conceive after far too many mushrooms, and ‘Celine And Julie Go Fishing’, which sounds like a Salvation Army band tuning up for a support slot with The Pink Floyd, circa ‘67.
If Thighpaulsandra is seeking a title for
his next album, he could do worse than call it ‘The Modern Psychedelian’,
for that seems to be his chosen role. Trawling in influences from all that
is weird and wiggy, but nailing it down to a production that’s impressive
in its clarity and space, and always allowing humour, a knowingly arched
eyebrow and a subtle half-smile, to inform the resulting brew. A maverick,
a true star. I don’t know what he’s on, but I’d like some.
Thighpaulsandra's website (incomplete): http://www.thighpaulsandra.com
Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis: http://www.nemesis.to