I wouldn’t be surprised if on Adam Crosland’s passport under occupation it says “subverter of expectations!” Like his art, which is both childlike and Childish (as in Billy) his musical output has been similarly challenging, confrontational even. From the explosive nature of Le Neon to the physical look of the Band of Burt, the oppressive onslaught of Veer Luth to the nightmare sound and scenarios conjured up by both Mr Hello and His Honesty Club and more recently Babies vs. Rabies, of which Sea Mammal is the logical extension, it’s obvious that playing by the rules has never been an option.
The echoing doom and hellish atmospheres that juxtapose with the visceral detonations of guitar and primordial beats will be familiar to any who saw Babies vs. Rabies or bought their only album release, Flies Off The Bride and this time round the D.I.Y. approach to these recordings seems to go hand in hand with the nature of the music. A certain lack of attention to production detail, whether financially driven or deliberately disregarded, does anything but distract from the package as a whole. Surely it’s all about character rather than gloss, right? And this has character in spades, just not the character that you take round to your mother for tea.
The word uncompromising has been used so much that it really doesn’t express enough when applied to Sea Mammal. This is amoral, self-centred, eccentric, unruly, aggressive and even pretentious. Yes, pretentious, (the title crosses a line that even Mercury Rev would stop short of) but being knowingly so is justification enough surely.
If you are one of those people whose record collection is full of exquisitely recorded, expertly tuned and wonderfully coherent music then this may not be your thing. But then if you think that great art can be made by buying a painting by numbers book and making sure that you don’t go over the lines, then your presence isn’t required here. You are channelling a spirit, which berated Kerouac, saw Van Gogh only sell one of his 900 or so paintings in his life time and meant that Kafka’s main income was working in an asbestos factory. In other words, head to iTunes and pick up the free U2 album, be one of the half billion who really care about music.