THE DURUTTI COLUMN Someone Else's Party (Artful)

someoneelsesparty.jpg (16734 bytes)For a first listen to the music of The Durutti Column, effectively the tradename of Mancunian guitarist Vini Reilly, "Someone Else's Party" is a pretty staggering introduction. Written in the aftermath of his mother's death, there is something simultaneously bewitching and calming about this brilliant album.

"Love Is A Friend" opens proceedings with skittering samples, jagged breakbeats, Reilly's foggy croon, which evokes nothing so much as Liz Fraser's long-lost male Cocteau Twin and his intricate, spiderwebbed guitar playing coalescing to make some kind of delicious, fragile magic. "Spanish Lament" is the album's unlikely showstopper: it ingeniously and deftly scissors Rebekah Del Rio's Spanish language performance of Roy Orbison's "Crying", from David Lynch's film "Mulholland Dr.", into something else again, caressed by Reilly's shimmering, post-rock-before-it-had-a-name guitar work.

"Somewhere" demonstrates that Vini can do that conventional, shuffling pop song thing standing on his head, although of course he can't make one that's not also intriguing and eclectic. "I'm thinking of music/It's filling my head", he murmurs, as slashing shards from those six silver strings tumble across the room. "Requiem For My Mother" is all minor keys, ominous and moving: never staying in the same place for too long, each successive track breaks new ground, a constantly shifting catalogue of sound.

"Remember" evokes Yoko Ono's "Listen, The Snow Is Falling", albeit snugly tucked in under an eiderdown of reverbed guitars, whilst the cut up chanting of a children's choir percolates through the gorgeous summer stroll of "Vigil". Never resting up, "No More Hurt" is a grumbling, angry, bitter thing, "Drinking Time" a sad-eyed lament for an alcoholic, Eley Rudge's vocals piercingly clear in this context. "Woman" skirts evocatively around the territory corralled by Moby, sampling a 1920s performance of "See Line Woman" from the American south, bubbling through a soup of crowd noise, vinyl scratches and clicking camera shutters. "Goodbye" is the album's glorious, heart-tugging closer: twittering birdsong, Reilly's delicate, sparse, expressive guitar, an answering machine message from his late mother. Fantastic, and almost too poignant to bear.

Apparently Reilly rates "Someone Else's Party" as "The first album I've recorded which I actually think is worth putting out to the world". Modest to a fault, it's also comfortably nestled into the position of my favourite album of the year so far. If gentle yet challenging alternative music is your idea of fun (maybe you have a few old, good Cocteau Twins albums on your shelves), I'm sure you'll gain something from hearing this magnificent offering.