Escape-ism - The Lost Record

by Sean Hewson Rating:6 Release Date:2018-09-07
Escape-ism - The Lost Record
Escape-ism - The Lost Record

Ian Svenonius’ Escape-ism project returns with a third album, The Lost Record, on Merge Records. Svenonius has been something of a legend since Nation of Ulysses first appeared in 1988. Since then he has fronted The Make-Up, Weird War, XYZ and Chain and The Gang. He is also an author and the presenter of Soft Focus.

The title track is a lighter version of Suicide and addresses the problems of being a lost record – unloved and unplayed. It’s not particularly an idea that interests me. Lawrence (Felt, Denim, etc) and Kevin Barnes (of Montreal) do this better. Next up is the single Nothing Personal, it’s another minimalist electronic track but again lacks hooks. It’s rather like The Normal or Fad Gadget without the shock of the new appeal. It is quite charming, but only quite.

I’m A Lover (at Close Range) is better. Slower, even more minimalist but with warm organ filling the sound out. The chord pattern is also more interesting in that it doesn’t resolve in the expected way. (I’m Gonna) Bite The Hand That Feeds is also good with a lead synth line providing the hook and a cheeky, little underlying synth part. The feeling of a more cuddly version of Suicide is back on Bodysnatcher, it’s quite like Lux Interior with Fisher Price toys. The hand-claps are a nice touch, the spoken word…less so. The Feeling’s Mutual is quite slight but has a nice, pulsating bass-line. The reverbed vocal on I Don’t Know Where Those Words Have Been gives it a nice Alan Vega/Twin Peaks feel that really works for these kind of arrangements. The ridiculously simple drum machine beat is also perfect.

The Exorcist Stairs is a three chord, Blues progression and, as such, reminds me of The Cramps, or even The Silicon Teens. Svenonius also drops an Alan Vega-like scream and you feel he knows what he’s doing. You Darken My Night is much more pleasing, a walking bass-line and injections of fuzz, noise and tremolo. There’s some fine, basic Blues guitar on Alphabet’s Gotta Be Changed but it doesn’t really develop into anything diverting. The guitar is still there on Rome Wasn’t Burnt In A Day (Julian Cope’s been here already); scratchy, fuzzy and imperfect – it’s good. The final track is What Sign (Frankenstein) – four minutes of T.Rex riffs, squelching noises and Lux Interior vocals.

To me, this album is quite slight. I do get the feeling that I’m missing something, I’m not great with concepts or humour in music. There are some fine ideas and sounds here but I never feel that I would listen to this over any of the other records/artists that I’ve listed above.

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