Renaldo and the Loaf - Play Struvé & Sneff [Klanggalerie - 2015]Play Struvé & Sneff was the first embryonic & strange sonic fruits of Renaldo and the Loaf- the British avant- grade two piece from Portsmouth. It originally appeared in 1979 on the projects own label as a cassette , and saw the pair mixing up a highly dada & plainly odd blend of: mangled & wonky instrumentation, tape loops, wavering sing-song vocals, and general sonic strange-ness. This is a double CD reissue of the album- featuring the original release, plus a second disc taking in a live recording from 1980, and a selection of morphed remixes.
I guess the best way to try & sum up Play Struvé & Sneff, is a blend of: The Resident’s( think Meet The Residents & Fingerprince), a less precise & off-kilter This Heat. With blends of unwell jazz, (un)easy-listening , hints at more sinister early industrial elements, and general lo-fi sonic quickness & invention. The music chunky, surreally amusing, and decidedly haphazard strew of twanging & unwell guitar work, multi-layered home-made percussion/ sound-elements, wonky & bent horn work, melted & unwell tape loops, manic-to-comic vocals that flit between Eric Idle like showiness, onto higher cartoon like, though more murky & mumbled. Clearly the big influence on all ten tracks here is early Resident’s- from the way the instrumentation is played deliberately wrongly, through to the claustrophobic & unwell layering of sounds, onto off-key nurse-rhyme vibe & unwell genre blending, though to the weird lyrics & strange delivery.
Really you have to like early work of the eyeballed ones to enjoy this, and at times they (almost) whole sale rip off their heroes. As in places the guitar sounds identical to Snakefingers contribution to the Fingerprince album, and the horn-work has the sneering unwell-ness that was typical of Meet The Residents album. Yet the pair do manage to add a distinctively English dada flavour here & there, along the beginnings of their (off) world music flavourings, that would fully develop further down the line in the projects later releases. As debut releases go it’s certainly worthy, and you do hear the seeds of what was to come.
The second disc takes in the original live recording of the pair in their home town of Portsmouth from 1980, and a selection of re-mixers/ re-treatments of the elements from the original live recording. In fittingly unconventional fashion the disc starts off with the re-mixers, and ends on the live track which comes in at the 17.27. The original improvised piece was built just around two electric guitars, voice, and a tape system. On the whole it sounds rather different from the claustrophobic & lo-fi oddness of the Play Struvé & Sneff release, as it’s built around circling-then-swirling wonky guitar struts, sails & ebbs, which ever so often are edged with either high pitched or wavering vocalising. Again there is quite a feel of Snakefinger here & there (especially at the start). Yet as it goes on these die back a little with flavours of experimental post-punk, more melodic & almost ambient gitar-scaping, and even haphazard world music/ jazz elements coming into play. The original track is rewardingly eventful & shifting in its feel, and on the whole very worthy in it’s own right. The other remix/ re-treatments twist elements from the original live track into interesting & moody kaleidoscopes of rhythm & ambience, which nicely re-shape the original source into something quite different.
Once again this reissue appears on Austrian experimental label Klanggalerie, and the two discs come in a three panel mini colour gatefold. This takes in texts about both Play Struvé & Sneff, and the live performance. Along with neat collage work- and pictures of the two piece then & now(recreating Struvé & Sneff front cover).
As with all the other reissues in this series Klanggalerie & the band have done a great job, both sonically & visually. I wouldn’t say this the best place to start for those new to the project sound, as I’d say either their second full length Arabic Yodelling, or their great collab with The Residents Title In Limbo first. But if you already familiar with the project, or dig early Residents work- this is well a look.Roger Batty