Saturday, November 01, 2014

Young Marble Giants, "Choci Loni" (1980)


Hailing from an era when one album, even one song, might turn out to be enough on which to mount a personal canon, the Welsh minimalist postpunk trio Young Marble Giants found a formula and made it work for the one album they made, Colossal Youth, which is well worth tracking down. This quirky and lovely song hits the high points: the soft hum of electronic gear, a twangy, butt-simple guitar figure, evocative as only twangy, butt-simple guitar figures can be (as Duane Eddy and others have been making clear since well before this), plus an intricate build to momentum, Alison Stratton's wonderful, ethereal vocals, and the role of the drumkit played by what sounds like someone tapping and brushing cardboard boxes and/or table surfaces. The whole idea is an intellectual exercise on one level, boiling down a sound to absurd essentials, but it's also a stone groove, winsome throwaway pop gesture, and a kind of poetry, accomplishing a good deal more than the look-what-I-can-do that mars so many intellectualized musical exercises: diamond-hard, glittering, and just a little silly, but infinitely beguiling. It moves and shuffles about like a miniature dancer, spinning, turning, bowing, all grace and elegance. The brooding tenor, slightly flat singing of Stratton's voice complements the mood well, waiting nearly a full minute to enter into the 2:37 track. With her out front the guitar even gets to go a little crazy. The words: "Eaten out of house and home / Choci Loni starts a roam / Putting on a bandolier / Hearing through a nudie ear." The chemistry in this song goes as far as you can hear in every direction.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that was great. Embarrassed to say I've never heard the band before. Too bad, because 1980-me would have loved them. Thanks for the introduction.