GERLING Death To The Apple Gerls (Infectious)
GERLING Enter Spacecapsule (Radio Disko Remix) (Infectious)
If I had a pound for every time Kev sent me a CD by some unknown band hampered by the unblinking belief that the road to fame and fortune is paved with Pavement albums I'd have enough to buy a Pavement album by now. My thoughts were not kind when I listened to the eponymous opening track on Gerling's "Death To The Apple Gerls" EP, a heltery-skeltery thing that Pavement would have been proud to call their own in the good old days before they became golf-playing country gentlemen of leisure.
There's a but coming here, as it were, and it's that over the remaining three tracks this Australian trio (and let's meet them now, not as a desperate ruse to extend the length of this review but to show how truly ambidextrous they are: Gerling are Darren E Spielberg Cross (guitar, synths, voice, samples, tambourine, bugle, recorder and drum machine), Burke Reid (guitar, walky talky, synths, samples, voice, shaker and prank phone calls) and Paul Towner Presser (drums, samples, drum machine, synths, bells, voice, bongos and turntable)) mash up Beck in hip-hop mode with Frank Zappa at his most counterculture-lacerating (the "Lumpy Gravy" album, at a guess), all recorded on a 4 track variously when "we had colds and were taking lots of medicine" and "with 8 blind people in a cabin waiting for the snow". Heck, even that Pavement track gets better and more impishly mischievous with time.
Cue second single "Enter Spacecapsule", unfortunately resplendent only in its Radio Disko Remix guise on the promo CD I was sent. This, I kid you not, is even better, a mainly instrumental thing that sounds like Mogwai and Stereolab mind-melded with the ripped-to-the-tits psychedelics from "2001: A Space Odyssey".
"Death To The Apple Gerls" and "Enter Spacecapsule" are also to be found on their debut album, days away from a British release, which is already two years old. Work on the follow-up is nearing completion, and rumour control suggests it might feature a cameo from the original Antipodean soap/pop crossover starlet. Something is very definitely happening here, and I don't know what it is. Look out for Gerling - they might just be brilliant.GERLING Children Of Telepathic Experiences (Infectious)
Gerling's debut album finally reaches these shores, despite being almost two years old in their native Australia, and the vexing question of whether the trio can stretch their inspired wacky mathematics over something longer than an EP can at last be addressed.
And the answer has to be maybe. There's much that is great on "Children Of Telephathic Experiences". The first single, "Death To The Apple Gerls", is a Pavementesque juggernaut of a three-minuter, and the second, the Radio Disko remix of "Enter, Space Capsule" has to be one of the most remarkable, blissed-out and sunny-day happy pieces of music I've heard all year. What plugs the gaps here is well, imagine Syd's Pink Floyd meeting up with Tortoise at their home studio for a smart drugs taste test session. A mess, undoubtedly, but in a good-natured, knockabout, experimental way, as titles such as "Suburban Jungle Sleeping Bag", "Meet You @ Karate" and "A Student Eating Sushi With A Chimp On A Glass Island" might suggest. The booklet photographs of items of 1970s hi-fi and musical equipment flesh out the story a little further, emphasising the DIY, cut-and-paste aspects of this frequently exhilarating music, as does the fact that the late intergalactic jazz band leader Sun Ra gets a mention in the thank yous.
Which doesn't necessarily make "Children Of Telepathic Experiences" a great album, but certainly adds more weight to the theory that Gerling are, or might one day become, a great band. In the meantime, most of today's pale-faced archaic-synth-twiddling bands would sacrifice their original-issue Can albums to be able to music as inspired as this, and how wise they would be.GERLING The Deer In You (Infectious)
Australian band Gerling's debut long player, "Children Of Telepathic Experiences", was a frequently enthralling freestyle-for-all that rampaged through just about every style imaginable between Tortoise's icy, aesthetically pleasing space jazz to Beastie Boys cartoon buffoonery, and uncannily anticipated the cut-and-paste shenanigans of fellow countrymen The Avalanches. "The Deer In You" single trails their imminent new album "Headzcleaner", and it's a mild disappointment. Where in the past Gerling have brushed against greatness, they now sound naggingly conventional, however much they attempt to spice up their sound with all manner of electronic whooshes and whistles. Judgement postponed pending release of the album, but from this angle things don't look too promising.
GERLING Dust Me Selecta (Infectious)
GERLING Headzcleaner (Infectious)
After the dreary by-numbers wackiness of Gerling's last single, the underachieving indie guitar rock of "The Deer In You", "Dust Me Selecta" represents a heartening return to form. A thunderous, glittering disco number, it owes at least some of its greatness to a sample of The Brothers Johnston's "Stomp!", and some more to Inge Liljestrom's deliciously divatastic vocal performance. In fact so great is this tune that not even the combined efforts of a team of remixers including the band themselves and Jacques Lu Cont can either improve on or ruin it, rendering the last 27 or so minutes of this promo single pleasantly redundant.
"Headzcleaner", the band's second album, begins promisingly: "Phazer Kids In The Windy City" is as balmy and languid as vapour trails in the summer sky. The perfectly constructed album mix of "Dust Me Selecta" follows, and it's brilliant, covering all you really need to know about the song. Proceedings then stumble a little, the distorted robo-braggadocio of "The Manual" and "Deka" not being among Gerling's greatest gifts to society, lacking the crazed clarity of their best work. "G-House Project" is probably the strangest, and consequently most interesting, song Kylie Minogue has yet appeared on, and you can practically hear their record label foaming at the leash to release it as a single. It's to somebody's credit that it hasn't yet appeared; although appropriately meaty, beaty, big and bouncy it's Gerling at half-heat, again, and not one of their most inspired moments, although the angelic voices on the outro are pleasantly reminiscent of those on Talk Talk's "I Believe In You", which is always nice.
The delirious guitar whoosh of "Fight Revolution Team", though, is one of their most inspired moments. It sounds a little like a precision retooling of their earlier "Death To The Apple Gerls", but in an alternative universe where I have dictatorial control over the media it's already a number one hit. Oh, and it collapses into the kind of diseased string orchestrations that Brian Eno pioneered on "Discreet Music", which, again, is always nice. The quality meter dips again, though, during "Brother Keith On Destructor Mountain (4001)", in which former Ultramagnetic MC Kool Keith mumbles cut 'n' paste nonsense between electronic thunderclaps whilst Gerling potter about in labcoats in the background praying vainly for a little cred by association. Must try harder.
"Hot Computer" is, like a lot of things these days, here for the electroclash night, although a bit warmer and more humane than the work of the genre's European practitioners. It's not brilliant, though, and neither is "Serpentheadz", more of a space-filler than a floor-filler, although the fragments of "The Girl From Ipanema" used as set dressing are quite fun. The tedium continues with the return of "The Deer In You", a song that sounds as if it would be perfectly at home on the disappointing last Super Furry Animals album. Happily, a crack in the clouds arrives with the two-parter "Windmills And Birdbaths", a gorgeous, warped and distorted nursery rhyme that babbles inscrutable nonsense such as "I love my transistor". "Summer Lake Rewind" is almost there too, Gerling's idea of a feelgood hit of the summer, i.e. one that involves a high school beauty's accidental death by drowning. The album bows out with the long, optimistic cool of "We Design The Future", suggesting nothing less appealing than Stereolab heard through a heathaze.
There's a lot going on within "Headzcleaner", much interwoven melody and trickery that's worthy of comment. It usefully ups the brilliance-to-dross ratio compared to Gerling's interesting first volley "Children Of Telepathic Experiences", but the celebrity guest spots seem mostly misguided, with the participants sounding almost as if trapped in some insane nightmare creation they can't understand. (It's almost the musical equivalent of the squirming embarrassment of the rentaquote celebrities genius anti-comedian Chris Morris used to goad into action in his "Brass Eye" series. ) Comparisons with fellow Antipodeans The Avalanches are inevitable, but there's sufficient difference in style and technique to allow the two bands to coexist happily on the same record shelves: Gerling are more broad brush strokes and primary colours compared to The Avalanches' intricate needlework. Whether anyone actually cares is a moot point, as Gerling's commercial impact over here has been somewhat less than seismic, but for what it's worth "Headzcleaner" is a frequently fine album. If they continue to improve at this rate of knots their next album could be glorious, and even if this is as good as they get one day they'll make a great compilation.