Alvarius B is, of course, a pseudonym of Alan Bishop, one of them Sun City Girls. This 10”, entitled Chin Spirits, is a bright example of the kind of half-nonsense, half-beauty those Bishop brothers excel in. First issued as a cassette on Chocolate Monk, now enjoy the vinyl version, thanks to the Unrock label.
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- Chin Spirits by Alvarius B
7/10 Robin Staff review, 22 July 2015
The last I heard of Alvarius B. -- known also as Alan Bishop of the tactless experimentalists Sun City Girls -- he was making pretty, slightly skewed folk songs with very modest motivations. ‘Baroque Primitiva’ was a beautiful record of wordless vocal chants over quiet, holidaying acoustic guitar, supplemented with Beach Boys covers and renditions of James Bond theme tunes. This 10” reissue of ‘Chin Spirits’, initially released on tape label Chocolate Monk, gets to that point eventually -- but first it has to wrestles with a collation of samples from Pulp Fiction and elsewhere screaming Fuck You. Fine; we can wait.
‘Chin Spirits’ actually sees Mr. B go loose structurally, recalling the free improv nature of many SCG releases via strums and freefalling riffs in the vein of Six Organs of Admittance. It’s primitivism without sheet music, for the first two proper tracks, and then he moves into one of his dark spoken word numbers; on “The De-Tuning Lounge”, he merely asks questions about his tunings and then plays awkwardly-placed notes with his fingers in the wrong bits of the frets. Fuzz ensues.
I’ve never been one for Mr Bishop’s spoken word stuff, which has often felt gratuitous and thoughtless to me -- on side B, though, he drops the momentary experiment for three noise tracks, raw instrumental scrape-a-thons with the occasional droning vocal chant. I like to catch Alvarius B. when he’s making pretty music, these days, but this is a reminder of the Sun City Girls of yore -- a nice compromise for those who want the acoustic brilliance of Sir Richard Bish balanced with some wholesome avant-garde naysaying.
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