Again, after recommendations from Ant and other ukmaers, I bought the Whale album ‘All Disco Dance Must End In Broken Bones’ (Hut CDHUT52) the same day I bought Moloko’s ‘I Am Not A Doctor’ (Echo ECHCX21).
Both albums are, in their own ways, bloody bonkers. This is their greatest similarity and the rather thin excuse I’m using for this head-to-head.
Whale’s album most reminds me of a pop band locked in a studio with a techno Phil Spector when he’s on acid and got his gun out. Whereas Moloko seem to be an experimental band who occasionally veer into pop territory as if by accident. Who can forget ‘Killer Bunnies’ (off their last album) once they’ve heard it, a track as bizzarrely scary as Denim’s ‘New Potatoes.’
Off the Whale album, my favourite so far is the last track, ‘2 Cord Song’ which has this grinding, inevitably VU-ish quality to it that’s fractured by Nico-ish vocals and some semi-yodelling. I think this is one of the poppiest tracks but I’m usually wrong. It does go a bit ska at the end, but then so do most songs.
The first track ‘Crying At Airports’ has a bit of a Portisheady feel but with a dubby bassline that reminds me of Renegade Soundwave’s ‘Cocaine Sex.’
‘Deliver The Juice’ also seems very radio and dancefloor-friendly to me. It most sounds like the Waitresses with Arthur Baker producing them and Wagner occasionally opening the door to his rehearsal room. I reckon if you love the Beasties (hiya Chaos Paul!), you’ll probably love this track. If you’re gonna listen to this album in a shop, check out this track cos it’s got most of the width of the album in there.
I don’t know (again) how to encapsulate this strange brew in one pithy sentence. Like Whale, Moloko have teensy bits of Portishead/MA/Roni Size drifting about but they also have their own thang. Like ‘The Flipside’ which is all over the bloody road, d’n’b to hip hop to swing to Tom Waits to trad jazz to rock.
The album as a whole isn’t. A whole, that is. It’s more like that old story about the blind men groping the elephant, each thinking it a rat, cat, bat, twat etc. I’ve only listened to the album two times thorugh solidly and it’s sometimes quite jarring. It’s weirder than Whale and less immediately poppy but there’s often a dark underbelly of pop there. But if it is pop, it’s goth pop: wry, dry and mostly impenetrable.
But amongst the huge weirdness, there are quite a few tracks which grip you despite yourself. ‘Dr Zee’ rolls along, with the boinks and the flurbles and ‘Sorry’ is a bastard cousin of ‘D.I.V.O.R.C.E’ with what sounds like a small monkey playing a tiny tin drumkit.
Overall, I think they’re both bold, adventurous albums. They haven’t done the obvious things most schmindy bands shamlessly get away with. All a guitar band has to do is bung a Moog on one track and they’re instantly acclaimed as head masons of the sonic cathedral of sound.
In a pinch, I’d prefer Whale over Moloko but then I’ve never been hugely into experimental music, Zappa, Beefheart or modern jazz. Whale rock, Moloko tronk. Take your pick.
love and kisses,