The two-step Arthur Russell returns with his first solo full-length since 2016’s fantastic Upstepping. What Oliver Coates is really good at is not letting his prodigious abilities get in the way of creating music of great body and motion. Again focussing on cello and production, Coates has melody, rhythm and harmony in perfect balance once more on Shelley’s On Zenn-La. Out via RVNG Intl. (Visible Cloaks, Hieroglyphic Being).
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Oliver Coates. Here’s a man who has a cello (a few cellos actually, but we’ll come back to that in a bit) and likes electronics. He really likes electronics, for a cellist: our description-scribe Fred has dubbed Coates “The Two-Step Arthur Russell” -- nice -- but also, I’m thinking a Pop-Disco Aphex Twin. Fantastic. Cos there are songs on this, you know. With actual words, sung sweetly on ‘A Church’ by Chrysanthemum Bear. And it’s lush. Another highlight is ‘Charlev’ with its occasional background, forewards-backwards vocal barely distinguishable beneath the morphing terrain of textured beats, bubbly electronics and pulsing synth.
‘Norrin Radd Dreaming’ is dedicated to Richard D. James (whoever he is) and has some lovely string textures, skittering percussion (naturally) and a nice bit of cooing and laaah-ing voice, from Chrysanthemum Who Also Was In A Choir On Radiohead’s Last Album.
Those cellos of Oliver’s, then (in case you were wondering) are many in number and listed on the inner sleeve to include: Chinese, Yitamusic Shanghai; Stradivari Copy circa 1800 and ‘English Anonymous’. Also, for more budding cello enthusiasts and tech-heads: a bow crafted in Vienna by Thomas Gerbeth. You can hear all this making a fine mark and noise on track 6 listed here as ‘Cello Renoise’, some finely chopped and cut-up beats following the undertow of scrapey string vibrations coming from Coates’ aforementioned assortment of cellos. Very nice.
There’s an excellent warbly bit of singing again from CB. Hey, you know what: ignore all that tech stuff I wasted a paragraph alluding to; this is a damn fine record full of catchy bits to haunt your dreams about nightclubs on fictional planets. If Shelly were a person -- and not an infamous Midlands nightspot -- she would be looking down with the Silver Surfer himself, approvingly. She loves a cello too.
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