Artful / Psychobaby, 2003
On Radio 6 the other morning Liz Kershaw played extracts of the new Durutti Column album. She introduced them by saying something along the lines of "this is a surprising band to make a comeback". Well they never went away, and it's no surprise to somebody whose only experience of them is their albums from 2001 and 2003. So I still feel ill-qualified to write about these albums, as I have never heard their early 1980s work for the eternally-cool Manchester label Factory, which established guitarist Vini Reilly's reputation.
This 2003 album, like "Rebellion", is founded on Reilly's unmistakeably spangly, effect-heavy guitar style. There's several lovely pieces, some guitar-only instrumentals, and pieces with only his guitar and muttery singing, which don't need any more frills. But it's most interesting where he sets that style against something completely different. On "Spanish Lament" he improvises a tingly guitar accompaniment to a piercing song by Rebekah del Rio, taken from David Lynch's film "Mulholland Drive". The other important track is of course "Requiem for My Mother". This dignified, sincere expression of grief needs no more than a gently throbbing tune over a constant drone.
Slick but always-tasteful pop beats, reggae rhythms and miscellaneous samples creep into the mix, while the guitar is always at the centre. Reilly's sensitive tune-writing is shown by songs like "Remember Me" and "No More Hurt". And instrumentals like "Blue" are the mark of a musician playing out his heart in a comfortable and successful style that comes easily to him. But too much of this style can become cloying after a while, and some of the excess fat could well have been trimmed from this 64-minute set. I would guess this comes across better live than in the living room. So the song "Drinking Time", featuring a liquidly smooth female vocal, comes as a colourful relief.
"Someone Else's Party" might have more individual highlights, but "Rebellion" was a more palatable length. Though it could equally be viewed as a warm up for this one. I really should buy that recent Durutti Column best-of compilation.
January 30, 2006