Renaldo and the Loaf - Songs For Swinging Larvae [Klanggalerie - 2013]Renaldo and the Loaf are a British two piece who conjure up a bizarre & surreal blend of: avant-grade pop, wonky (off) world music, tape loops, and general sonic quirkiness. The band originally existed between 1975 & 1988, and have recently re-grouped again. Here is a two CD reissue of the band’s infamous first (official) album from 1981, and really if you enjoy weird, wonky & unwell music this really is something you must check out.
The band have often been called ‘The English Residents’- and I guess that’s a fairly accurate description for some of their material, but they very much had their own influences & sonic identity too. This album originally appeared on Ralph Records(The Resident’s label), which of course in it’s heyday also put out releases from the likes of Chrome, Tuxedomoon, and Yellow. This 2013 reissue appears on Austrian experimental label Klanggalerie- the two discs come in a mini three panel gatefold, and this takes in a stuck on 8 page inlay booklet. The first disc takes in the original album, and the second disc takes in selection of 21 unreleased tracks from the same period as the original album.
The original album features sixteen tracks, and these are mostly fairly short, swift & bizarre sonic affairs; that meld buoyant yet angular nursey rhyme like melodies, with weird & often warbling vocals, spinning by backward tape reels, muffled and de-tuned instrumental textures, and general lo-fi sonic invention. The whole point of the bands early sound was to try & mimic the sound of synthesizer-with only the use of acoustic ones. And really most of the tracks on this first album still manage to sound time-less odd, due to the use of lo-fi/wonky instrumentation & general home studio invention. Certainly on tracks like the opener “Lime Jelly Grass” you can hear The Residents influence, with it’s wiry & wonky marching toy band mix of blunt yet bouncing de-tuned guitar, toy horn work, & marching drums. But then on tracks like “Is Guava A Donut”, you get a distinctively more English take on sonic odd-ness- as the track sounds like a blend of off-colour This Heat, Monty Python, and a unhinged & sped-up one band playing a musical hall tune. We even get Reich like moments with “Hats Off Gentlemen”, which brings together shifting & intermingling layers of looped piano repetition. The whole album only has a runtime of just under forty minutes, but the pair really stuff it full with both effective twists & turns, quirky sonic invention, and a generally a playful & surreal air.
The second disc, entitled Songs From The Surgery, takes in 21 tracks & has a running time of 50 minutes. Featured on this disc is a collection of alternative versions of album tracks, along with a host of unreleased tracks. And the way this second disc has been sequenced it really plays as a album in it’s own right- the alternative versions of mostly different enough to stand on their own, and the new tracks offer up the own odd sonic fruits, which at times show a quite different darker & slurred side to the bands sound. Take “LDI, prt 4” which is built around a series fragile, barren, yet melancholically wonky ‘n’ looped guitar improvisations. Or “The Hydrophile”,with it’s blend of mournful & slurred horn work, slow percussive hits, and general unease- sounds like a melted & unwell noir movie soundtrack.
So all in all this is a worthy & nicely put together reissue of this fairly classy slice of sonic odd-ness from the 1980’s, which is well worth a look if you into any form of wonky & unwell music.Roger Batty