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Elegiac Julian Marszalek , March 22nd, 2021 08:39

A collaboration between Blurt's Ted Milton and Wire's Graham Lewis proves a bracing but welcome relief for Julian Marszalek

Like sardines and jam, oil and water, and Gordon Ramsey and game shows, some things should never be mixed together. And yet for all that, there are certain blends that are worth taking the plunge for if your sense of adventure allows for it. Like salted caramel, Elegiac are a case in point. Comprising the unique talents of post-punk art-rockers Blurt’s sax-mangling, existentialist poet Ted Milton and Wire’s low-end rumbler Graham Lewis, this delightfully eccentric pairing make for an intriguing and wholly enjoyable experience.

Granted, the fusion of poetry, unrestrained jazz skronkage and gurgling electronica suggests an evening designed for the masochist in your life, but the reality is an album that reveals different layers and hidden depths as it goes along. Opener ‘Vous Et Ice’ is a deceptive introduction, giving the impression that this is going to be a heavy ride. Saxophones blast and honk around each other as repetitive bass pulses underpin Milton’s confusing lyrical imagery and sudden dips into French. The end result is the kind of confusion that arrives at the end of a three-day bender with no sleep.

But Elegiac is worth persevering with. For sure, the album’s charms are frequently unconventional and they’re as likely to induce feelings of confusion as they do pleasure. Witness the demented ‘Pelican House’ wherein plopping percussion and an overlapped chant of “Scum!” is splattered with multi-coloured blasts of squawking saxophones. If Ted Milton sounds as if he’s had a few, then you’ll soon be feeling as if you’ve had a night out with him.

Elsewhere, our two protagonists are at their most characteristic on the fantastic ‘The Daffodil Women’. Lewis’ bass growls with menace and a penetrating resonance as its loops into a spinning miasma that collides with stabbing saxophones. Intriguingly, Milton sounds like a Bowie impersonator at closing time. But make no mistake, this is gloriously hypnotic stuff, a fall into a rhythmic vortex that unscrews your head so it can pop your brain in the fridge. And, as the album progresses – most notably on the seductive ‘One Two’ – the realisation creeps in that what was originally considered abrasive has become a soothing form of chaos. An odd mix, for sure, but one that comes as sharp relief to the trying tedium of lockdown life.