Irma Vep is the solo venture of Edwin Stevens, a Manchester music stalwart who can be spotted in various of the city’s bands, including Klaus Kinski and Desmadrados Soldados Des Ventura. No Blues Handshakes is a ten track set of personal songs for (mostly) guitar and voice), taking Stevens’ Welsh hometown as the central inspiration. Released on CD and vinyl by Faux Discx.
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- No Blues Handshakes by Irma Vep
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I've seen Irma Vep perform live on stage a couple of times and what is noticeable about them apart from that there are a surprising number of hats amongst their members is that they have one incredible song that stands out like a cherry plonked on..erm...something less good than a cherry. I don't know which is the good song but it could be opener 'A Woman's Work Is Never Done' which is a magnificent beast. Two nasty doom laden chords go back and forward but the droning violin is the piece de resistance. It recalls John Cale's work on 'Black Angel Death Song' or Sarah Curtis's alarming electric violin on Kings of the Slums records.
There's something pretty classic sounding about Irma Vep. They use distorted vocals which makes them sound like they are climbing out of a sewer but it's not just that. Songs like the closer 'Still Sorry' are superb. One part Bill Callahan one part Sparklehorse but grimy...really grimy.
They can frustrate though, the title track is a lengthy guitar wig out, absolutely fine and nicely atmospheric as is 'It Runs Slow' which improves immeasurably when strings start to sweep across it. It's good but some of the rest of the record is stellar. They don't make it easy and make you work for the really good bits but the fact that they are there at all is pleasing enough. Keep listening. Irma Vep could well be the thing we talk about in ten years.
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