Rising anew from the ashes of various small abandoned fires like a Pegasus, the second album by 23frames finally makes its appearance. Each one of these songs, even the occasionally flawed inclusions, add to the charm and cohesion of this expertly-sequenced record, cementing its place among their crowning achievements. Indeed, the album’s variety of sound-scapes is perhaps testament to the sheer number of locations in which it was recorded; a school, a freezing cold church, 3 different flats in Brockley, one in New Cross, and a house in Nunhead. The album’s title was inspired by the artist Gary Lawrence, whose amazing biro drawing won the Jerwood Drawing Prize in 2011, and was, he said, a tribute to all the anonymous artists throughout history who made work but were unrecognised.
Ten freshly recorded titles – including many sure-fire stage-show favourites – are featured on the two generously-filled sides of this record. 23frames have repeated the formula which made their first ‘The Mystery Calculator’ LP into one of the most, albeit a slow-burner, successful albums of whenever it was. Again they have set their own compositions alongside a batch of personal-choice pieces selected from the repertoires of the American R&B artists they admire most.
The first half of the session gets away to a rip-roarin’ start with the band’s powerful treatment of ‘Echolalia’. Two more compositions follow with these remarkably talented tunesmiths handling their own lyrics, on’Panic Stations’ and ‘Tired & Emotional’. On the first slower number Ian takes the vocal lead with Ben supplying the harmony, and listen to Jack’s superb, slightly country & western guitar solo, an intriguing feature of ‘Summer of Insects’. Behind Ian’s double-tracked voice the rest of the band create some unusual instrumental effects on ‘In My Cups’, with Ben beating out a lean, hollow-boned rhythm from the claves, and hitting out at a loose-skinned Arabian bongo (don’t ask me where he picked that up!) to pound out the on-beat percussive drive.
On a fair number of previous recordings by 23frames, suitable piano sounds have been added to their instrumental arrangements, to haunting effect. The keyboard contributions come a little later in this new programme, but while Ben plays the piano parts on Wounded Sky, Jack was standing by another microphone adding in some neatly-timed mouth-organ phrases. Note the band’s subtle use of the Roland Space Echo.
Those who considered the band’s The Coastguard to be a stand-out attraction of 23frames’ first LP will be more than pleased to hear them again assume the role of romantic balladeers on the ante-penultimate ‘Come on, Life’. ‘Pitchblende’, and finally ‘God Rock & the Doves of Claramish’ make a completely worthy climax to this knock-out programme, two rather epic numbers that entice, beguile, and finally enslave the listener; Ian’s Fender Jaguar thrumming with its unique alternative tuning and capo. Hope it doesn’t leave you too breathless to flip back to side one for a repeat-play session of HOMAGE TO ANONYMOUS!
released 13 December 2013
Ian Brzozowski - guitars / bass / vocals
Jack Smith - guitar / vocals
Benjamin Hooper - drums / percussion / bass / vocals
All lyrics - Brzozowski
All music - Brzozowski/Hooper/Smith/McKee
All songs recorded & mixed by Benjamin Hooper at Polling Station Productions
Mastered by Vasken Arslanian at Iguana Studio
Produced by Benjamin Hooper & Ian Brzozowski
Photography and original artwork by Ian Brzozowski
Sleeve design by Benjamin Hooper & Ian Brzozowski
23frames began life with a few shouted-over-the-music invitations to a rehearsal at the end of someone else's gig at the
very tip of 2004. In a leaky-roofed studio in a now demolished gin-distillery in Deptford, an album - The Mystery Calculator - was conceived, recorded, released and gigged. Their second album, Homage to Anonymous, was released in December 2013. Every other word is F....more