Matthew Simms is the guy in Wire who has all that hair and looks slightly out of place. Musically though he fits like a glove though and away from the art rock he makes music as Slows. This third album grew out of Simms faffing about with drum recordings by Matt Schultz (Holy Feck etc) and adding all kinds of sounds whilst playing the drums back in the studio. This has led to a more out there experimental record with nods to the outer space jazz skronk of Sun Ra.
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- A Great Big Smile From Venus by Slows
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It would seem that one of the members of Slows is Matthew Simms from Wire, so I apologise but I am obliged as a Norman Records staffer to make that my review’s topic sentence. What might give away Slows sound better, though, is the label affiliation: released in an edition of 300 for the pulse-loving, rhythm-worshipping, weird-craving Deep Distance, ‘A Great Big Smile From Venus’ is probably gonna be a gridlocked psychedelic trip.
It opens on shattering free jazz drums and organ shrieks, the frenzy eventually passing out on itself and into a state of bubbly bliss. It was a fake out; the band are prepared to get perpetuating a groove for you, playing little toy melodies around the edges like kids trying to amuse themselves in the back of a car on a long ride to where, exactly? There are momentary pit stops -- the drums cut out and the organ keys say their piece, offering their microscopic hint of anthem to the world unabridged. Halfway through the first side we’re treated to a maneuver in sound, if not pace, with the percussion changing from stirred to shaken and the synth suddenly becoming its own hypnotic force.
In spite of their sonic moulds and disciplines, Slows make music more like a collage, switching out one ongoing jam for another and smoothing over the corners with lovely, sleepy drone. Given what they’re decorating, the first few minutes of the record’s second side sound like a sleepy night spent in a motel after a long day’s travel -- twinkling drone for peeling paint walls, they wake up to light jazz drumming and pre-coffee synth yawns. The record’s second side wakes up and whirrs into a final, noisy declaration, though the whole journey ultimately sounds like it’s been lovely: dissonant like the disappearance of passing cars, exciting like speed seen from the backseat. It’s one of the nicest releases I’ve heard this year, actually.
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