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The Rebel
Remember Your Failure In The Cave Noel Gardner , August 12th, 2021 08:16

Lo-fi it may be, but Ben Wallers' latest outing as The Rebel has enough wit and absurdism to make anyone feel pleasantly queasy, finds Noel Gardner

“I’d like to record an LP,” diarises Ben ‘The Rebel’ Wallers on middle-section album track ‘I’d Like To Record An LP’, “for the people who are unaffected by the global pandemic. What about them? Who hears their voices?” Speaking as a virologist, marketing guru and diviner of public opinion, I believe that Remember Your Failure In The Cave is being released at the optimum moment, exploiting the citizenry’s collapse into full lockdown ennui but also sneaking into the racks before we are all sent back home again by oiks spitting on each other in nightclubs.

Disappointingly, though, as we are surely all desperate to hear more coronavirus-themed concept albums, this song is the only one whose lyrics indicate it was recorded at any particular time. Apart from ‘The Eighce Ovs Payeds’, which is an unfaithful semi-cover of the similarly titled Motörhead hit, thereby dating it to some point after autumn 1980. It reminds me a bit of the Instant Automatons, making it one of the more coherent moments of this frankly chaotic record.

Having released music for some thirty years, under a healthy variety of aliases, Wallers has amassed a fair sized discography. Many artists like him, of a grotty DIY disposition but with a profile of sorts, self-release their strangest music on quicker-fix formats and save the more accessible work for vinyl. This has not happened with Remember Your Failure In The Cave, released through Joe Thompson’s Wrongspeed Records. Presumably taped at home, with not much more than a very budget-sounding electronic organ and weak-as-clock-radio-speakers drum machine (steel yourself for the life support machine beats of ‘Jingly Midichlorians’ and ‘Can We Just Put Yes2D2B Hind Us?’), much of the album’s first half is indefensible lo-fi mithering, and I speak as someone who, before becoming a virologist, marketing guru and diviner of public opinion, spent much of my life defending lo-fi mithering.

Nevertheless, longstanding Rebel enthusiasts will know the price of admission, and it’s they who may sway to an exotic groover like ‘Baby Chick Went Down To The Fayre’ – inching, by this point, towards what one might call ‘rock’ but with an absurdist collage aesthetic. Then there’s ‘Title Track Two’, so called (I assume) because Wallers utters “remember your failure in the cave” in a horrid voice over keyboards which might, placed in another context, be described as dungeon synth. I for one would listen enthusiastically to Ben Wallers’ dungeon synth album, and imagine there could be at least one other person in the world who agrees – for now, though, this is just a preview of a hypothesis. To reiterate, not a coronavirus concept record, but one which might make you ill, then dead, then a statistic in an extinction-level event.