Originally sent out at random to all manner of unsuitable places, 'Misadventures on the Scorn Cycle' sees a long-awaited vinyl release for Dan Wilson's sonic experiments as Meadow House. For the uninitiated, Wilson has a particularly English style of songwriting - imagine Chris Morris crossed with Syd Barrett and you are somewhere close. Part genius, part idiot, this is a rambling, absurdist outburst crammed with bits of sheer pop brilliance.
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Part genius, part idiot, and part pest, Dan Wilson's Meadow House produce the sort of off-kilter, dysfunctional music that, if you wait long enough, someone in the future will declare to be 'lost brilliance', unappreciated at the time like R. Stevie Moore or some such. Well let's try to pre-empt that by revisiting these creative recordings while they are reasonably fresh from the pan.
Conceived as part of a 'mediadrop' project, a then 20 year old Wilson sent the initial CDs out to completely inappropriate places - garden centres, banks, bowls clubs, lightbulb factories, you name it. What these people thought (if they got as far as playing a copy) we'll never know, but I'm a fan of plenty of his stuff and even I'm torn between wanting to wring Wilson's neck and being ready to proclaim to the entire world that he is an unheralded genius.
The best bits are spectacularly brilliant bursts of bonkers pop that sounds something like a cross between Syd Barrett, Chris Morris, and any random lunatic. 'Disturbance in the Pancake Shop' begins with Steve Lamacq reading out a listener's idea for a title for an Underworld album before bounding off into a clattering tale of a madman causing a scene, all sung in comic autotune - "everybody thought that he was such a wanker". Even better is 'House Invasion', a singalong shanty that sounds like Syd Barrett performing on Playschool. Completely ridiculous, but try getting it out of your head. You won't.
For all his insanity Wilson has great musical ability. Some of the tracks have the rolling, drunk-at-sea feel of Tom Waits, with all manner of clatter and clanks. Sometimes he plays it straight. "All Petty Substance Flee' lolls around a sublime, heavenly melody picked out on detuned guitars and ethereal choirboy vocals. No-one makes music like this. Perhaps The Cardiacs' Tim Smith got close with his Sea Nymphs project? Elsewhere there's a deranged yet everyday Englishness to proceedings - the unnerving 'Wrecked Liberty Cap Harvest' begins "the gardeners are sitting in their rocking chairs surveying all the dismal air of the allotment" whilst on 'Temperamental Coffee Machine' he creates the music by, um, twanging and hitting the insides of a coffee machine.
Like a lot of musicians who work on the premise of 'just being', Wilson doesn't seem to quite know how good he is. A couple of the very best tracks off the original CD (such as the truly stunning 'Malaise On Stilts' and 'Life of Leylandii') aren't here, and some of their replacements are not as good. 'Mice' could easily see you throwing the entire album out of the window, if you haven't done so already. But then it's that kind of record. Playing it in the office gets a reaction, not always a positive one. If you were playing it and a friend walked in you might sheepishly turn it off. And that's the nature of Wilson's world - maddening at times, but blessed by the kind of creativity that is totally unique.
6/10 The Don Customer review, 23rd November 2017
Not the standard I've come to expect from Public House at all. There are some fun bits for sure but this collection of what seems like random outtakes means that the overall effect is like one big pisstake. And all in all it makes this reviewer feel like shelling out £14 was a bit of a mistake.
8/10 Wryly Customer review, 21st November 2017
Dan Wilson's Meadow House is simply bonkers. It's music that has no right to exist, so you can find yourself wondering why it all works so well. Call it pointless noise, or Dadaist bollocks, but there are tunes that will entertain (and possibly infuriate), that will burrow their way into your bonce and become earworms later on. Does humour belong in music? Whatever your opinion, you will probably find supporting evidence on this album.
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- Misadventures On The Scorn Cycle by Meadow House
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