Culture Club: Episode 4

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October 18, 2014 by Wayne.

Previous Culture Club episodes can be found here


Uwem Akpan – Say You’re One Of Them

A terrifying short story collection.

In fact, it’s one of the most breathtaking, heartbreaking, horrifying, overwhelming, nightmarish collection of stories I’ve seen.

But it’s also very, very good. And it’s up there with some of the most important books I’ve read.

Kazuo Ishiguro – The Unconsoled

Surreal and incredibly subtle – almost to the point of being undecipherable. Like many of his other works, there’s a deep dreamlike atmosphere to the proceedings. The difference, I suppose, is that this novel feels like the epitome of that dream tone. It’s haunting and hypnotic, and almost lulls the reader into missing some rather shocking parallels being drawn across the numerous storylines. Here, time is fluid, human nature is cyclical, and the archetypal Ishiguro narrator makes his last appearance (for now).

A strange book, for sure. Equal parts puzzling and soothing, which add up to a very, very strong effort from one of my favourite authors.


A Place To Bury Strangers – Exploding Head

It’s like a demon baby of grunge and shoegaze, basically. Vocals are soaked with reverb then pushed back into the mix as shimmering guitars battle with buzzing, industrial ones. In tracks like Deadbeat, for example, the guitars soar and feedback and explode in a glorious cacophony of layers.

All the gloss aside though, most of the songs are essentially straightforward garage rock tunes. It isn’t hard to identify the underlying pop structures, with catchy melodies and choruses that dial slightly back on the auditory overload. Add in breezy, uncomplicated drums and you have the basis for yet another garage album – or do you? Thankfully, Exploding Head always goes an extra step further even at this base level. Take Keep Slipping Away, for instance. It’s a bright track. It starts very cheerily and threatens to be formulaic (and fun), but then takes a slight detour during the breakdown.

And then it segues into Ego Death, which essentially heralds in the second half of the album. Things get abruptly darker and grimier here. The pounding kick-drum remains, pounding away a steady, driving rhythm, but the snare crashes and reverberates with vicious intent. The guitars are incessant and paranoid, screeching in and sludging and screaming in crescendos. It’s glorious. It’s the reason the album makes it into the essential list, really.

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