Sunday, 22 April 2018

Anton Barbeau - Natural Causes


Latest LP from Berlin-based Barbeau! “Pre-apocalyptic psychedelic pop”!


We've covered the very wonderful Anton Barbeau a couple of times here at HDHQ - last year's 'Heaven Is In Your Mind' 7” and the excellent Three Minute Tease LP made with members of the Soft Boys and XTC. Mr. Barbeau is such a productive and creative free-spirit, it's always reassuring to know that new music is never too far away, and never disappoints. His latest album Natural Causes came out a week ago and is as good an entry point into Anton's oeuvre as you'll find, containing new material mixed in with old favourites re-worked. Eclectic, intelligent and with occasional sphinx-like mystery and depth, it holds together as both a new album and a cohesive “best of”, full of shimmering jangle, idiosyncratic melodies, sometimes elusive time signatures and lyrics to maintain your interest and ruminations long after the album's final track fade out.

The record came into being after attempts at a more political album Applewax were ditched. Says Anton - “... Applewax was full of gun-loving rednecks and I just decided there was no good putting more of that back into the world.” A fair point, and perhaps the material recorded will one day find a suitable release. We can all agree there's perhaps too much heaviness and doom around presently. Optimism, positivity and good vibes are in shorter supply so floppy hats off to Anton for making that decision. Mellotrons, MiniMoogs, 12-string acoustic guitars all contribute to the general breezy, uplifting feel, but the lyrics ensure the record is fun but far from lightweight.

An old favourite 'Magazine Street' gets a re-working and opens the album. Among the new material is 'Mumble Something' and 'Magic Sandwiches' (how can you resist a title like that! 'Secretion Of The Wafer' featured on Anton's recent Fruits de Mer 7” but is here in its earlier original recording. My favourite tracks on the album are 'It's The Coffee That Makes The Man Go Mad' with its beguiling time signature and earworm chorus and 'Disambiguation' a thought-provoking study in modern psychedelic pop.

Classic Barbeau and a solo record in name but Natural Causes was made with a little help from his friends. Guest musicians include Andy Metcalfe( Soft Boys), Nick Saloman and Ade Shaw (Bevis Frond), Robbie McIntosh (guitarist for The Pretenders, Paul, McCartney), Michael Urbano (Todd Rundgren, Neil Finn) and Karla Kane who duets with Anton on 'Neck Pillow.' If you're unfamiliar with the music of Anton Barbeau Natural Causes is a great place to start.


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