"peaches shaped like donuts, split and juicy, just right"
they could have been an English Avalanches
nothing else quite as magic as that in their slender discogs, but this one is a blast
on the flip
the only one of their label-mates who came close
stuff i wrote (for Spin, in 1998) about these dudes under the dubious rubric of "intelligent big beat" -
Even as Bolshi tracks adhere to Big Beat's party-hard line (the music's "got to
make you move and make you smile," says label founder Sarah Francis), the best
of the label's otuput glistens with an inventiveness and delightful quirkiness
that's scarce in this increasingly witless genre. Take Rasmus, a Sweden-born but
London-based sampling wizard skilled at meshings seemingly incompatible elements
into a funktional rhythm-engine. "Afro (Blowin' In the Wind")--the highlight of
Rasmus debut album Mass Hysteria-- rubs a slice of conscious rapper Spearhead's
basketball-in-the-park reminiscences and some scratchadelic frenzy [illegible].
This messthetic of incongruity is something Rasmus gleaned from 'ardkore
producers like Sonz of A Loop Da Loop Era and Jonny L.
Black sheep of the Bolshi roster, Beachcomas are even more into
mix-and-mismatch. The partnership of programmer Matt Austin and
sample-finder/"chaotic influence" Tony Freeman, Beachcomas first scored on the
Big Beat scene with their Bolshi debut "It's Eggyplectic", a glorious
squelch-funk surge of jazzy keyboard licks, burbling clavinets, and fierce acid
stabs. But the duo really started to live up to their scavenger name--inspired
by the surreal sight of a bed washed up on the mudbanks of the Thames--with
"Donuts," an off-kilter delight that became the title track of the first Bolshi
compilation (where you can also find "Eggyplectic"). Its unlikely constituents
include quaint, regionally-inflected English voices, taped from a TV gardening
program, talking about "peaches, split and juicy", "strawberries," and "nuts and
medleys"; the panting of their pet dog, who refused to bark as desired; and a
clipped guitar riff stolen from the B-side of the Mekons first single, "Never
Been In A Riot". This influence from an earlier phase of indie-dance
crossover--the punk-funk of Delta 5 and Gang of Four--carries through to the Pop
Group sample on Beachcomas' latest EP for Bolshi, the disappointingly ungainly
"Big Tuddy Session". Although I could swear it's "Where There's A Will There Has
Got To Be A Way" (the Pop Group track on the split-single with The Slits's "In
The Beginning There Was Rhythm") that gets sampled on "Waiting For The Beach"
(from the second Bolshi EP, Planet Thanet; also available on Donuts 2).
Beachcomas say it's actually a Diana Ross loop, combined with rooster noises
generated from rubbing Styrofoam together. Either way it's a killer tune, if too
rhythmically eccentric to do well on the Big Beat circuit. Right now the
Beachcomas are the group who could do most with the album format ("Donuts" was
one of the most oddly poignant tracks I heard last year, strangely reminding me
of A.R. Kane's second album) but the artist least likely to get the chance.