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Dartz - The Sad History of the Village of Alnerique

  by Anthony Middleton

published: 5 / 9 / 2008

Dartz - The Sad History of the Village of Alnerique
Label: Xtra Mile
Format: CD


Rewarding and versatile second album from Teeside-based young indie guitar trio Dartz, which uniquely may be the world's first dance-punk concept album

This is probably the world’s first dance-punk concept album, at least the first one I have come across, though I must say my search has not been exhausting. Dartz (anyone old enough to remember Darts should have told them to reconsider that name), are a Teesside based band who have taken a rather brave decision to change tack and make a more thoughtful album. Kinetic rock bands have a history of moving to a more narrative terrain. While this may not by 'Quadrophenia', it does just about work. I must declare an interest here: Being a prodigal son of Teesside myself, I am very keen to have some other rock heritage in the area other than Chris Rea, David Coverdale and Paul Rogers. Other than that, Middlesborough and its environs have not been noted for producing musical talent. Roy Chubby Brown’s forays into music excepted, naturally. As if to declare the grave nature of their endeavours, each of the threesome (Henry J. Carden, William K.J. Anderson and Philip J. Maughan) are always referred to with middle initial in place. At least this is in contrast to the spiky, danceable guitar driven music which is pure fun. Simply by creating a unifying narrative behind an album, Dartz are free to explore a more varied musical palate, than they normally may. Previously at home with highly energetic melodic rock, they do not stray too far, but in songs like 'Oskar and Ofelia' have a episodic feel, changing direction and tempo with greater emphasis placed on their lyrics. The songs often feel like they are musically referring to each other ,which goes to help the feeling of an overarching structure. The “mini-album” (27 minutes and eight songs) does perhaps lack songs that really grab you by the throat and demand that you listen to them again. A couple of melodic, mellow instrumentals, 'What Happens to Places Where Spaces Should Be' and 'Embers', breaks up the pace as the album heads towards its finale. 'The Lay of the Land' is great jarring new wave and 'The End, Moving On' seems to be a dénouement of sorts to the narrative and is probably the most arresting song. I suspect that Dartz, like many young bands are best sampled live, though 'The Sad History of the Village of Alnerique' is rewarding, varied album alternately full of energy and introspection.

Track Listing:-
1 The Arrival, Building Alnerique
2 Oskar and Ofelia
3 A New Venture from Mordecai & Sons
4 The Clandestine Choir
5 What Happens to Places Where Spaces Should Be
6 The Lay of the Land
7 Embers
8 The End, Moving On

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