- 08 Apr 01
STANO: “Wreckage” (Hue)
STANO: “Wreckage” (Hue)
While Wreckage is a long way from the young man who recited poetry in front of avant garde disciples and curious onlookers at The Project Theatre fifteen years ago, John Stanley still manages to maintain a grip on his self-styled but not necessarily self-promoted enigma. The ex-carpenter is still knocking on wood, still kicking against the pricks, still around to annoy.
Stano is back from semi-major label hell, burnt in the process, but thankfully not burnt out, for Wreckage is full of surprises, twists, turns and the occasional great moment. It seems an independent record company is the ideal place for Stano and experimental musicians like him; the same record label released last year’s flawed but intriguing Words Mean Nothing Lifes Just Wild by L to dance to different time signatures.
Which is all very fine and dandy, but is Wreckage any good? Can you think to it? Can you dance to it? Can you hum any of the songs? Strangely enough, the answer is yes to all three questions. Most unusual, I’m sure you’ll agree, especially when one takes into consideration Stano’s perverse and previous history as Ireland’s number one musical agent provocateur. This is the man, after all, whose past releases include album titles such as Content To Write In I Dine Weathercraft (and stop sniggering at the back, please), Seducing Decadence In Morning Treecrash. Some would say Stano only has himself to blame for accusations of pretention or inaccessibility, and while Wreckage will not catapult him into superstar overdrive, it should at very least turn those opinions around.
Generally speaking the music is of the metallic, industrial type. The ‘sound’ of the album fluctuates between guitar-driven melody and huge swathes of grainy, monochromomatic keyboards. It comes as no great shock to discover the helping hand of a My Bloody Valentine member, drummer Colm O’Ciosoig on a couple of songs – the opening track ‘Drain Puppet’, and ‘Bleeding Horse’. Where the former is as conventional a rock song as Stano can muster, it still sounds like little else around, the slowed down hoover rhythm both disorienting and delirious. The latter is one of the album’s several instrumentals, a distorted and glittering shuffle around various rhythmic time frames.
The remainder of the album is just as adventurous, if still wilfully abstruse and fractious. But then that’s Stano and the nature of what he does, and to dismiss Wreckage as yet another aural misdemeanour would be a disservice to his talent.
The music contained here still isn’t overtly commercial – not that that ever really matters – but it certainly makes more sense in the current climate of grunge noise/melody, and even more so in the wake of the commercial dance industrialisation of Achtung Baby and Zooropa. That’s a comparison that Stano may consider either ironic or insulting, but one that’s valid all the same.
• Tony Clayton-Lea