Lay Llamas - Thuban - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Lay Llamas - Thuban

by Rob Taylor Rating:7 Release Date:2018-06-15
Lay Llamas - Thuban
Lay Llamas - Thuban

The guiding star, Thuban’s galactic trajectory once brought it forward as the brightest and most visible star viewed from the Earth’s North Pole. The Pole Star. It remained there for over 2,000 years before its position was assumed by an ascendant star, and now cannot be seen by the naked eye. its relevance and heavenly splendour are virtually lost until it re-emerges as the Pole Star again in 20,000 years time.

The pretence of the Lay Llamas album, Thuban is to tout itself as a guiding force for cosmic wonder. The music is rhythmically connected with Afrobeat and German rock traditions, and shares kin with many of the Rocket Recordings roster artists, in sound and a determination to push boundaries. The album is, to some extent, experimental, calling on actual collaborations with Clinic, Goat and The Pop Group’s Mark Stewart, as well as drawing upon foundation sources such as world music, psychedelia and avant-garde jazz improvisation. The latter comes courtesy of some disruptive gonzo sax which interposes itself, so as to subvert the late night mood of tracks  ‘Cults and Rites from the Black Cliff’ and ‘Silver Song’ with a skittishness bordering on the neurotic. On ‘Fight Fire With Fire’. Mark Stewart's (Pop Group) narration of a futuristic world devoid of humanity is literally neurotic. Human freaks proliferate from the ashes of corporate greed, political malfeasance and biological manipulation. Like Trump's inner circle, or Italy's Lega Party. Sci-fi doesn't displace our contemporary world. It reflects on its more negative trends.

Not light subject matter then. No fear, the music is more accessible than what might be gleaned from the intent. In fact, you’d be forgiven for making comparisons with China Crisis on ‘Eye Chest People’s Dance Ritual’. It sounds like a 1980s dance floor in the aftermath of punk. ‘Silver Song’ has a familiar motorik drive, and the somewhat restrained vocal of the Goat singers on ‘Altair’ lends a suitably (but uncharacteristically) narcotic balance to the African rhythms. 

My only criticism is that the atonal sax used on Thuban is the only vehicle which really drives the music into new spheres, and adopting tonal irregularity with alarming effect is becoming a bit of a cliche in cosmic/psych music. 



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