Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The Cubical - It Ain't Human


Don't be a square! Check out the 2nd album of raw but literate swamp-psych blues from these fast-rising Liverpudlians.

Like most Liverpool music folk, the Cubical share a fascination for the work of one Don Van Vliet AKA Captain Beefheart. (Don't ask me why that should be, perhaps Trout Mask Replica or Doc At The Radar Station is on the school curriculum over in Merseyside.) One thing's for sure, vocalist Dan Wilson has certainly studied at the Beefheart & Howlin' Wolf Academy of Blues Growling. And graduated with honours. It matters not whether this is an affectation, after all such stylised singing was probably an affectation for for Beef and Wolf too. What matters is how it's used and whether you have something to say, which fortunately for us, Wilson does, covering wide range of emotions and topics. From the blurred boundaries of friendship and romantic love on Are We Just Lovers, to advancements in mechanical engineering on Three Drop Jameson Mechanism. (No, I don't know what it is either.) There's also room for some classic European literature references on An Ode To Franz Biberkopf. 

Click over the jump for more on The Cubical - It Ain't Human
Much like the scene in the Van Gogh/Billy Childish style painting on the album's cover, the music inhabits a murky half-lit world between light and dark, day and night. A shadowy place where the righteous are liable to meet the dangerous coming in the other direction. Much like early rock 'n' roll was fired by contradictions between gospel music and more secular urges, The Cubical seem to instinctively understand this creative dichotomy. Taking rock's most primary colours as their basic musical palette, the music is essentially a mix of blues, garage, and early god-fearing rock 'n' roll, all extremely well executed with enough grit 'n' grime in the grooves to keep it raw and soulful.

There's some inspired additional musical touches such as on Falling Down, a boozy bar-room lament, complete with honky tonk piano and a well concealed (listen closely) closing time bell. A contrast to the quiet and sober reflections on the simply strummed Paper Wall. Also worthy of a mention is the mournful New Orleans second line brass sound on The Myth Of Willie McGrath which builds into an extended horn-driven wig-out coda.

The band's first album Come Sing These Crippled Tunes was recorded with long-time Noel Gallagher associate Dave Sardy, and a third, as yet untitled one has already been recorded completely live in a 4-track reel to reel studio on Berlin. Unlike a lot of one-dimensional bands ploughing the garage/blues rock furrow, The Cubical have that extra something which sets them apart from the crowd.