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5 June 2010

Bügsküll & the Big White Cloud (Scratch)

This is technically a collaboration with someone named the Big White Cloud, but it's hard to tell what Mr. Cloud actually brings to this that wasn't already in the Bügsküll arsenal (ah, those lovely umlauts have returned again!). This record begins with a driving stadium rock jam called 'Fair Are the Sails' (or at least, if Bügsküll played a stadium). The bedroom electro-psych we've heard emerge over the past few records (and we are missing Distracted Snowflake Volume Two, remember) is now emphasised with a driving 4/4 beat behind it and triumphant, anthemic riffs. The long second track, 'We Understand That', builds up on the thick layers of the opener with a goofy come-and-go electronic beat, and occasional vocal intrusions - a brief processed vocal part that serves as a type of hook, and then some murky megaphone speaking. The speaking continues on side one's brief coda, a plucky metal-tank inhabitor that somehow fits with the back cover text about whales and whatnot. Side two furthers the 'inside' psychedelia, as the layers are quite thick and the notes quite melodic. Whomever the Big White Cloud is, they certainly steer Byrne to a more fun, accessible direction - until the last track, 'Tweedlebug Jamboree', which is perhaps the longest and most out there piece heard on any of these records. There's no tonal center, and it's assembled from bits and pieces - and it's dark. As dark as some of Snakland's bad karma. As the sendoff track for our Bugskull run, it's a good choice, as it somehow encapsulates much (if not everything) that is great about Bugskull. And overall, this album feels like a logical place to go after Distracted Snowflake. It builds on the confidence of that record and the achievements of the early work, but without being repetitive. Mr. Byrne pretty much dropped off the map after this - nine years later, another LP was released, but it dates from the Snowflake period - so maybe this is a swansong not just of my own accumulation but of Bugskull in general.

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