Toshack Highway Vs Sianspheric
Adam Franklin of Swervedriver first met Sianspheric when the latter group opened for them on their Canadian tour in 1998. After keeping in touch over the course of the years, the artists decided to start working on what was then going to be a split 7". With material flowing freely (Sianspheric reconvened with their original lineup on their The Shape And Colour Of The Sun), that short release bloomed into this double-EP. With 5 tracks each and a total of 40 minutes spread out over two CDs, it seems like a bit much (when both could have easily fit onto one), but the 2 pieces of media provide a clearer deliniation between the two groups whose sounds slightly overlap.
Franklin of Toshack Highway opens his release with "The Streets That Spin Off," a jangly brit-pop influenced track that is quite a few steps removed from his Swervedriver gig. From there, he's on to spacey quiet folk of "Cannery Row" and the country-tinged (and aptly-titled) "Country Grass." "(She's Got) Celestial Navigation" brings nice touches of bubbling synths in over layers of strummed guitars while "The Sounds And The Times" closes out the short release with an acoustic version of the Swervedriver song.
The Sianspheric half of the output is highly varied in only 22 minutes of time and provides for a much more interesting listen musically. After opening with the slight and quiet "Song For," they drop off the edge into the guitar wash that they did so well on their aforementioned release on "Beneath The Ocean Floor." The nicely-titled track fits perfectly with the massively reverbed guitars and percussion, and the sleepy vocals only add to the submerged sound. "No Space" brings things to a little more of an earthly level, but it's still custom-made for stargazing (or gentle shoegazing) while "This All Happened" is one of the more rocking tracks that I've ever heard from the group, making like old Sonic Youth before again slowing things down and fuzzing them out for the final track.
Basically, this is a good little release for anyone who's a fan of either group, and it's a decent little intro for those who haven't yet heard them but are looking for a place to start. The Sianspheric half of the release works quite a bit better, despite being a bit more disjointed, and it shows that they seem to be back on top of their game. Since it's split onto two discs, it works the same as a split record as well, since you have to switch the CD (like flipping to another side) to hear each of them (unless you have a multi-disc player, of course).