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Drum Eyes
Gira Gira Iain Moffat , August 13th, 2010 08:23

He can feel the earth begin to move, he hears the needle hit the groove... But enough about DJ Scotch Egg's day job, since, this time around, here he comes. He bangs the drums. Mind you, even his pre-band career didn't exactly consist of anything so pedestrian as superstar turntablism, raging as it did through ultraviolence! gabba hypnotism! and, er, flinging out tunes that had been composed after month-long KFC binges, apparently. The odds on a combo of cohorts (including, and take this as portentously as you will, erstwhile Boredom E-Da) being as calming an influence on him as, say, the rest of Atari Teenage Riot were on Alec Empire are slim to the point of emaciation.

And so it proves, which ought to come as no surprise to anyone who witnessed their satisfyingly sandblasting turn at the Camden Crawl earlier in the year but is nonetheless wilfully warming - if perhaps a tad disappointing for anyone absentmindedly picking this up instead of the Drums album and searching near-fruitlessly for the whistleable bits. Gira Gira eschews the millennial gigantism that ill-served a whole batch of avowedly avant-garde genres and chooses instead to limit itself to the uncharacteristically tradition-based one-side-of-a-C90 duration (although you'd be hard pushed to find much Walkman-friendliness here). Intriguingly, though, that's still time enough to showcase an impressive degree of imagination that takes it beyond the realm of mere pranksterist onslaught.

Take '13 Magician' for starters - not that it actually launches proceedings, but because it's certainly the drummiest of tracks here. There's a perverse playfulness, even a nastiness-tinged nostalgic sense, to its sub-bass squelching, and it perhaps evokes what at times is the least charming bit of snake-charming to make its way onto a CD; at others, it has the feel of an exotic grapple with speed metal rifferama, with the complete experience being that of a slo-mo car crash blasting out 'Machine Gun' on a detuned stereo. Or plunge, if you will, into the most consideredly epic offering here, 'Future Yakuza'; well, we say considered, but there's a good deal of convincingly primal horror with guitars taking their disrupt-the-dancing cues from 808 State's 'Cubik' and simply forgetting to rein them in. Its techno staggering comes across as demagnetised with an impish curiosity, and its point-of-no-return descent into fearless volcanism not long after the seven-minute mark is potentially divisive but inspiredly inevitable.

And it's not as if there aren't flashes of comparative levity either. 'Future Police' doesn't sound futuristic at all, but instead draws upon recollections of Hitchhiker's Guide (the TV version, obviously) and A Clockwork Orange to fantastically faux innocent effect. It provides, in essence, the album's pop breather even if the unspecified acts of serration that punctuate it and the structural morass that threatens to overwhelm it three-quarters of the way through add a somewhat illusory, uncomfortable gloss. 'Hana B' has what passes for a martian dub breeziness and unusually small-village keyboards that, in patches, combine to suggest a cut'n'paste contraction of much of 'Leftism' but with bonus fuzz. All of which is great, but all of which is just narrowly topped by '50-50', which, among other delights, sees Scotch Egg returning again to the Tetris well, repeatedly bungeeing with a proggy poing!, swimming in briny bass, and even suffering a possessed episode of chipmunkery that reroutes the track wholesale.

All in all, then, there's something for everyone. It's just that, for most people, that something'll come in an extremely small dose. Not that our protagonists here are likely to be bothered – across-the-board appearances in the albums-of-2010 lists might by no means be concretely booked, but Egg and his Drummers are unarguably throbbing as entirely to their own beat as any of 2010's finest...