19 September 2011

Frankie Machine - The Cartesian Product (EP)

Label: Artists Against Success
Year of Release: 2000

Blame Babybird if you want, but at the tail end of the nineties and during the eye-blinking morning of the 21st Century, the music press developed something of a fascination with eccentric lo-fi or semi-acoustic dabblers. They'd always been around, of course, the origins being easily traced to people pressing their own folk records in the fifties and sixties - but seldom before or since had the practice been given so much scrutiny, with some hacks admiring the anarchic, independent spirit of the artists in question, whilst others (who probably also freelanced for "Loaded") dismissed them as no-hopers and losers.

Some of the output was indeed self-indulgent silliness which should have remained locked away on the home Portastudio, but other items from the era - like this - are beguiling. The Cartesian Product isn't really an EP as such, but two sides of ambient noise, effects and melodies creating a well-woven whole. If the vinyl had been released as a two track single you'd genuinely be none the wiser. Wonderfully, though, it seeps with gentle menace, suggesting a creeping violence more intriguing and disquieting than most hard rock records. "I only wish that people wouldn't trust me enough to allow me to raise their children" Frankie gently sings as if performing a lullaby, not long before being interrupted by some discordant sound effects. Simultaneously comfy and utterly wrong, the use of melodic subtlety here is both manipulative and pleasingly odd.

There's not really a massive amount of point in me offering the EP below as its available free on the Frankie Machine website - but I've done so anyway, just so you can hear the both sides strung together as a coherent whole. Unbelievably, the act is still going, and I'm pleased to report that a new album "Squeeze The Life Back In" was issued in July of this year.

The Film I Never Made
Rhumba for the Mainframe
Happy/ Sadistic
St. Agnes Day Epilogue

Commercial Zenith
Tragic Love, Easy Listening
No Love Boat
Every Sunday Morning

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