On the outside looking in, always judging a book by its cover, and not always getting it right. Edmund Roycroft roots through the Polish album scene, not knowing pop from hip hop as he gets lost in translation and is forced to judge an LP by its artwork.
The cover of Afro Kolektyws album 46 Minut Sodomy is a tongue in cheek reconstruction of Edouard Manets greatest and controversial painting, Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe (The Luncheon on the grass). The painting sparked public notoriety in the mid-19th century due to its depiction of a naked woman picnicking with two fully clothed men. Replace the aforementioned naked woman’s head with a pigs head fashioning a nightcap. Substitute the gentleman seated beside her with a brown bear and the man lounging directly across changes sex to a young lady who may be described as being togged out for tennis, squirting ketchup onto the arm of the pig. In the backdrop switch the woman bathing fully clothed in a stream with a Russian Babushka Doll and instead of the picnic baskets strewn contents and the naked woman’s clothes, we see a stewing pot with 46 Minut Sodomy printed on the side. Quiet a mouthful you may say, well, so was the album…
For those who have already read my reviews you may have already noticed this won’t be a track by track review of this album. Coming in at twelve tracks and listed as two sides A/B and having listened to it in the background in my apartment to having it rewired into my consciousness via my trusty head phones, I simply could not get to grips with the sound. On other reviews I’ve roughly translated and broken down Polish songs before, and found exceptional lyrics and inspiring word play, this is not the case here. Although in some instances there lie some fine lines. On the band side of things in regards to the music it has its appeal, with some nice sounds and tight, open acoustics and percussion; it had a real lounge resonance and was engaging. I picked up on a retro vibe due to fresh sounds from the xylophone and the electric guitar was introduced with good effect into the works. These guys are seasoned musicians, however on the vocal side I found it discursive.
I love poetry as much as the next person and some artists have great ability to lay their thoughts out like true word smiths, singing in continuous style for the length of their tracks. But I’m talking about the greats, like Dylan and Waits. And this does not apply here. The vocals seemed incessant, giving the band little room to expand in parts and work in some neat set pieces where its sound could have been explored more. What we are left with is style over substance, when substance is joining the luncheon on the grass. My ears searched to find any form of comfort in the vocalization; I found that it etched a little into my eardrum just a tad. But some tracks I’ve mentioned in the highlights section have they’re merit. As I’ve referred to Bob Dylan and Tom Waits previously, who have unique styles, and it’s their words that cut through the songs landscapes and although their voices may sound unusual to some, it’s a chemistry that would not have its desired effect otherwise, the album Rain Dogs being a prime example. I feel that may be in part the aim here, a side by side roll of vocals and backing instruments, which falls a little short of the target. It slightly falls into the realm of The Divine Comedy or The Pogues, but ever so slightly. The vocals don’t seem to accompany the style of the band and vice versa. There is the possibility I was lost in translation or maybe it’s just me and a case of Marmite, you either love it or hate it?
Either way I have to leave this to one side and engage in some ambient therapy on the other. So as I close the cover to this album, which had immense comical draw, and click the disc back into place, I cannot help but feel that this cut of fillet was little overdone. Then again, it’s a lesson learned, never judge a book by its cover.
Genre – Lounge/Pop
Highlights – Pijany Mistrz, Aaaureola and The album artwork.
If you like this, listen to – The Divine Comedy, The Pogues, Jerry Fish and The Mudbug Club.