I really wanted to like this album more. I liked the fact that the man behind it found me via a shared appreciation of The Corner Laughers who we recently reviewed. I like the fact that for a very off the radar artist, a lot of effort has gone into the packaging and presentation of the record. I love the fact that his own description of what is going on here is that it “give a voice to fantasists, freaks, dead twins, pop stars past their sell-by-date, the deluded, the bereft and the downright horny.” But liking where the thought process begins and where the music ends up are two very different things, and whilst the record has some very fine singular moments, it also has some very long periods of monotonous electronica, the fact that much of that monotony is tinged with insane samples and strange peripheral noises that don’t seem to be part of the song really doesn’t help.
The flat, spoken vocal delivery that dominates the album also takes a bit of getting used to, there are a lot of artists who have made a career from not really singing, Dylan, Waits, Cohen, Cave…sadly, the exotically named Kim Tortoise is unlikely to ever join that select group of avant-gardists. I’m sure there are a lot…well some, people out there who will see some sort of subversion of form, a deliberate anti-music statement, humour and art-attack in Red Cosmos’s output, but I’m not one of them. If you got points for showing your working out then the final reckoning might be higher, but this is music, not maths and points are based purely on the finished article and they are much harder to assign. Ironically on Ode To A Beatnik, Kim sings, “I Can’t See This Ending Happily”….I know what he means.