Renaldo and the Loaf - Arabic Yodelling [Klanggalerie - 2015]Here we have the 2015 double disc reissue of the 2nd album from British avant-pop meets wonky (off) world music two piece Renaldo and the Loaf. The album originally appeared back in 1983, and it saw the band developing more of a sonically sophisticated & layered sound, which featured a wider sonic pallet, less awkward edgerís & more tuneful element's- yet didnít lose the projects quirky sonic charm & distinctive feel.
The two CD set appears on Austrian experimental label Klanggalerie- the label is slowly but surely releasing all the bands back-catalogue in double CD reissues, which feature a whole host of rare & unreleased material. The two discs come in a mini three panel gatefold, and this features a stuck on 8 page inlay booklet in the middle panel. The first disc in the set takes in the original album, and the second takes in selection of 21 unreleased tracks from the same period as the original album.
So onto the discs themselves- and first up we have disc one which features just the original album. This takes in 16 tracks in all, and these have running times between just over a minute & nearing the five minute mark. And from the very first track "Green Candle"- itís clear the bands sound has developed & grown since their first full length 1981ís Songs For Swinging Larvae. The track melds together a bouncing Ďní bright mix of loosely gyrating organ & synth lines, taut strutting though slightly unwell guitar textures, sliding layers of weird calls & sea gull samples. All of this is topped off with buoyant & mumbled male vocals that move from Eric Idle showy, higher sing-song, onto subdued talky.
Everything on this album seems so much more planned, layered, and detailed- where Songs For Swinging Larvae was often quite haphazard & rough around the edges in both itís unfold & individual track lay-out. On Arabic Yodelling there is clearly a lot of time & effort gone into the sonic layers of each & every track, the running order of the tracks, and general album feel. The band clearly want to take you on a strange & heady trip to a sonic land that melds together honking & quirky toy-time melodies, bent world music elements/ textures, and a good old British dada sensibilities. Yet for all the songs layered & quirky odd-ness thereís a real feeling of keen & memorable melodies edging pretty much all of the tracks here.
The second disc is entitled Grain By Grain( For Accuracy) - it takes in twenty one tracks, and has a running time of fifty three minutes. The discs a mix of alternative versions, sketchers of tracks, and a few full realized tracks. Unlike the extra disc with the Songs For Swinging Larvae reissue, I found this more a collection of tracks & less a work in itís own right, and sadly itís not as consist either; but as a snap-shot in time of where the project was during & around the time of Arabic Yodelling itís rewarding enough. Of the tracks that stand-out & offer something worthy in their own right (aside from sonic snap-shots), the following come to mind: "One Dream per night + 1.4" starts off with dense blend of backwards & forward percussion. Then moves onto banks of buzzing & wonky horn work, before most interestingly finishing on a mix of moody 80ís synth & beats meets fairground music; which sounds like if John carpenter had sound tracked a action fed clown movie thatís based in a dystopia future. "Is Fall Equal To Rise? + Acerbic Yelling", is built around a sequence of bounding piano runs - these have quite a proud, sternly ornate, and thoughtful feel to them, and are a real departure from the bands normal sound. "1.3" is built around a mix of consistent stabbing organ, which is played over by a shimmering, warming & waving synth lead melody. In the last minute we move into a mix of wind sounds & baying animals (when I first heard this part the effects rather brought back memories of The Residents album Eskimo), before we get a brief snippet of the melody line from Mahogany Wood( which would later appear on Title In Limbo- the 1983 collaborative album between RatL & The Residents)
In summing up this is another very worthy & much needed reissue from Renaldo and the Loafís back catalogue. The first disc/ original album finds the band at their most consistent & worthy, and really is a must have for anyone who enjoys odd music thatís both tuneful & cleverly conceived. The second disc is a little uneven on the whole, but there are moments of great-ness here, and itís certainly a bumper sonic snapshot of the bands sound at that time.