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reviews | sounds (december 1st, 1979)



Real To Real Cacophony album
Real To Real Cacophony

Although they're miffed that Real To Real Cacophony is less accessible than its predecessor, the business minds at Arista tell me they're mightily impressed by this album. And so they should be; for with the exception of the works of that wild genius, Anthony Braxton, this is probably the most uncommercial album ever released by Arista UK.

The Minds swore that they wouldn't be caught up in the singles-chart syndrome, promising that their second album wouldn't be simply Life In A Day Revisited; and they've done it.

I'm not saying Real To Real Cacophony is a masterpiece (and I'm certainly not equating it with Braxton), but Simple Minds have come up with an album whose experimental successes far outweigh its flaws.

Their debut lent itself to suggestions of similarity with Roxy, XTC, Magazine and others, and those similarities remain on this album. But here those similarities are put into context, the Minds emerging as their own masters in a milieu that the share with the abovementioned combos. Carnival does have that careering, fairground XTC feel, but the weirdo effects and oblique beat rhythms steer it away from plagiarism. Similarly, the high flying staccato rocker Calling Your Name slyly invites comparison with early Roxy arrangements, but scythes off into a style purely of its own.

Their razon-edged staccato feel has broadened out, expressing their own style ot a greater extent and allowing them to strech their own conventions. Witness the brash lead and tumbling rhythms to Changeling or the dub-treated Real To Real. Where Life In A Day was tentative and predictable, Real To Real Cacophony is self-assured and explorative.

This extends to the inclusion of the completely off-the-wall piece Veldt, a shocker of an experiment worthy of a band whose name I daren't mention for fear of disembowelling. Monkey cries, locust rhythms, wailing saxophones, synthesiser drones and buzzes swoop in and out of hearing over a raw, reggaefied beat, taking the piece farther into the hinterland, than either Peter Hammill's Motorbike In Afrika or Bowie's African Nightflight (although Veldt cheekily steals Eno's cricket menace from the latter piece).

From the rather enclosed style of their debut, Real To Real Cacophony shows a considerable - and brave - progression. It captures some of the shock-effects of the avant-garde, some of the emotional power of outfits like the Pop Group, yet still retains the best of the Minds tight and trebly riffing. File under impressive.

John Gill
Sounds, 1st December 1979