Two Lone Swordsmen
Before I say anything else, let me just say that Andrew Weatherall is the man. Since his entrance into the music scene in 1991 (on Primal Scream's awesome Screamadelica, he's found time to produce a lot of work by other bands and remix a ton of tracks by other artists. Not only that, but he's been a key member of the band Sabres of Paradise and now Two Lone Swordsmen. Not content to let anyone pigeonhole their sound, the group had up and changed their sound around quite a bit since last years EP Bag Of Blue Sparks, both of which are nicely contained on this one release (which saves you the price of the import-only EP).
Never ones to subscribe much to brevity, this album is also a huge change in that it deals out tight, quick chunks of electronic foolery. In fact, the first 11 tracks on the disc (which make up the Stay Down release) add up to only 10 more minutes than the last 5 tracks (that comprise the Bag Of Blue Sparks EP). Just by looking at the cover, one can get a good sense of the sounds that take place on the disc. An underwater theme seems to run throughout the whole first part of the disc, from the opening track of "Hope We Never Surface." A very slight, pulsing melody loops through the track while light clicks and a a few other sounds float in and out of the mix. "Ivy And Lead" changes things up a bit with a bit of an electro-shuffle of a beat that sounds like an upright bass being played in a swimming pool. A light dusting of chimes and some nice simple string sounds top off the spy-theme sounding track. Things pick up a bit as a real beat makes it's way into the tracks "No Red Stopping" and "Mr. Paris's Monsters." They're not dancefloor-worthy, but they help prime the setting a bit for the latter half of the CD. The first half of the disc ends on the 6-minute "As Worldly Pleasures Wave Goodbye..." The little clicking sounds are back, this time overlying a super-low bass throb and an almost haunting melody.
Things pick up quickly on the 5 tracks of the Bag Of Blue Sparks EP. The group takes more of an electro sounding edge than before with old-school beats and less mood than on the previous tracks. "Sticky" tears out of the gate with repetitive vocals and a beat that sounds like it could be coming out of the lowrider with the subs in the back. It morphs a bit about halfway through to reveal its soft side before taking off again. If "Last Of The Fumes" doesn't calm your electro-electronic obsession, I'm not sure what will. The disc finishes up with the almost jungle beats of "Black Commandments."
Really, the combination of the two releases on the one disc is optimal. Not only do you get two very good releases, but it also shows off the different sides of the group and what they're capable of. The first half starts out slow and gradually warms you up until the second half takes off with slick beats. Sometimes the group sounds a bit like B12, while others they sound a bit like Incunabula-era Autechre. Another excellent release from the duo.