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Stanley Brinks and the Wave Pictures - Gin

  by Benjamin Howarth

published: 2 / 3 / 2014

Stanley Brinks and the Wave Pictures - Gin
Label: Fika Recordings
Format: CD


Invigorating and extraordinary second collaborative album between former Herman Dune member Stanley Brinks and the critically acclaimed Wave Pictures

First introduced to the world in 1999 as one half of Herman Dune, André Herman Dune changed his name to Stanley Brinks when he left his old band in 2006 (his brother David Herman Dune continues to record under the Herman Dune name). He has written and recorded at a prodigious pace since then, releasing several albums each year (indeed, 'Gin' is already the second album he has released in 2014). He keeps his career deliberately low key – preferring to play in tiny bars and living rooms, and releasing most of his music on CDR only. His first album with the Wave Pictures since 2010's 'Another One Just Like That', however, gets a release on Fika Recordings. Fika seems an appropriate choice – it started life as a cassette-only label and, while it has since branched out into digital and vinyl, remains a charmingly homespun operation. The Wave Pictures sent their home recorded albums and some fan mail to Herman Dune while they were still at university. André (Stanley) recognised a kindred spirit, and passed those albums on to his friends – soon Jeffrey Lewis and his band were fans. They even invited Wave Pictures vocalist and guitarist David Tattersall to play guitar with them for a John Peel session. They both self-released albums covering each other's songs, and – when the Wave Pictures moved to London and agreed a record deal – their third album was recorded with Brinks and his partner Freschard in Berlin. Brinks wrote the words for a recent Wave Pictures single, the surreal 'Eskimo Kiss'. They are natural collaborators – not just friends, but musical fellow-travellers. Both Brinks and Tattersall write songs often and quickly: they don't spend months agonising over a chord change or a drum pattern, and songs come quickly, capturing a moment. Both tend to write stories about ordinary-day things, sometimes twisting these into surreal stories, other times cutting straight into you with words you don't normally hear in a rock band. Listening to 'Gin', you'd be forgiven for thinking those involved played with each other all the time. They do, as I've explained, go way back. Yet, these songs came together – recorded over the three days that led up to the May Bank Holiday weekend. Just back from a tour (and with a twenty-track double album of their own in the works), the Wave Pictures hadn't even heard most of the songs they were recording. No matter – it's not like Bob Dylan ever taught his band the songs. 'Gin' was recorded in the same studio as the last Wave Pictures album (the classic 'City Forgiveness'), with the same people behind the mixing desks. Inevitably, there are similarities between the two – when Brinks let rip on the sax, you can't help but be reminded of his similar turns on ‘City Forgiveness’. Always a nimble guitarist, in recent years David Tattersall has shed any lingering inhibitions and fully embraced the art of freeform, improvised guitar solos. He is adept at acoustic, fingerpicked blues as well (see his solo album, 'Little Martha' for that). But here, Tattersall's playing here is rough, raw and bluesy – think a speeded up and extended version of the sound Marc Ribot achieved playing with Tom Waits on 'Rain Dogs'. Brinks is easily mistaken for a dipsy-daisy twee popper – but that does him a disservice. He pushes his voice up a little higher than it naturally goes, which gives his melodies bite, but there is a biting quality to his delivery and a hint of darkness to his words. He also has a knack for doing little, clever things to his songs. You feel that Brinks is giving a little bit of himself in the songs, but it's not always easy to tell what bit. Sometimes, he sounds like he's just enjoying the act of writing and sing rhymes – playing with words and finding new ways to fit them around music. Possibly my favourite single moment on this record is when he extends his voice out into a strange bleep, a sound that is then immediately echoed by a sax that comes in on the next bar. All this while he is singing about something as seemingly innocuous as an espresso machine. At the beginning of the record, everyone involved seems to be feeling each other out. Dare, I say about, at times, it sounds like they are just mucking around (take this lyric on the partly spoken-word ‘Spinola Bay’, for example - “There is only one question really, cheese or peas?/Me, I put them together and take a big bite/. But if you prefer one or the other, well you know it's all right.” ‘Gin’ may not just have given the album it's title. It's fun, yes, but it's on the second half off the album where they really lock together. ‘Parking Lots”’has a classic Wave Pictures groove, but ‘No Goodbyes’ has a brooding intensity I don't automatically associate with them. Instead of the dizzying guitars, a single chord is thrashed over and over. Brinks' vocal sound winsome, but with a knowing creepiness, as he spits out “I know better than to think too much”. Johnny Helm's furious drumming steals the show as the song draws to its end. 'Gin' reaches a delightful conclusion with the sweet ballad, “Not to Kiss You”, where Brinks writes sadly of a non-quite love affair, around a melody that could have fallen off Dylan's 'Blonde On Blonde'. It's a delightful end to an invigorating record.

Track Listing:-
1 One Minute of Darkness
2 I Wanted You
3 Time for Me
4 Spinola Bay
5 Blues About Krishna’s Latest
6 Max In the Elevator
7 Light and Slow
8 Parking Lots
9 No Goodbyes
10 Not to Kiss You

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