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Church Chords ‘elvis, he was a schlager’

Feb 14, 2024 | Experimental, Music

Stephen Buono & a stellar cast of uber-talented collaborators

Stephen Buono, operating as Church Chords, must have been the proverbial kid in a sweet shop when assembling this stellar cast of uber-talented collaborators. Although, this album didn’t materialise in a spontaneous feat of creativity, but, instead, unfolded in what could become the longest running HBO series, if ever filmed. The recommended approach is to just dive in! Who can resist Recent Mineral, a motorik, experimental pop banger, topped off with a playful Genevieve Artadi (Thundercat, Louis Cole) singing in Portuguese for the first time. Or, Alone Under The Water, a trek across a mountainous range of melancholy with fiercely devastating words from Kristin Slipp (Dirty Projectors, Anthony Braxton). Did Benjamin Lazar Davis just rediscover the vibe he found with Joan As Police Woman? Sonic Youth fans will gladly offer up their copy of Goo to have Mote replaced by Owned By Lust featuring Nels Cline riding his guitar to the edge of oblivion as zzzahara, and the heavily invested, Ricardo Dias Gomes, lay down some superbly enigmatic vocals. Warriors Of Playtime, written in the wake of the George Floyd murder, is a psychedelic mariachi band embellished with some of the gnarliest lines yet to flow from Jeff Parker’s Gibson. Whereas, Apophatic Melismatic is a straight up dancefloor banger with a bass line to singe your eyebrows. Then,save yourself for Man On A Wire, this year’s standout leftfield torch song played out on the searing trumpet tones of Nate Walcott (Bright Eyes, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Phoebe Bridges).We’re only scratching the surface: it’s the giddy wobble of Empath, and a dash of the propulsive joy of LCD Soundsystem, topped with some of the most cutting edge creatives in Buono’s back breaking tome of an address book. At the same time, trash that: reference points are an irrelevance, as there has been no attempt to mould these compositions into recognisable shapes. There’s a carefree abandon as it ricochets across genres. With so many artists involved, and a protracted gestation period, this could have become an overblown stodgy mess, but nothing has reduced the urgency of this essential album.

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