Cut from the same jagged cloth as The Birthday Party and trash rockers The Cramps – Bone Architecture is a rambunctious new collaboration between Manchester’s Harry Stafford and Brazilian guitarist Marco Butcher.
With its threadbare production and discordant brass, the title track and current single sets the tone for what’s to follow.
A dark tale of a protest-cum-riot, it’s leavened, like the rest of the record by coal black humour and the raw energy of the music.
“Five friends in the protest group, five goons in the snatch squad swoop/Rows of shields and baton charged water cannon face enlarged,” croons Inca Babies’ frontman Stafford in a stage whisper.
As things go badly for the protesors, Stafford takes a perverse delight in recounting what the likes of Netflix tend to describe as ‘Injury Detail’.
“Black eyes, split ear, squashed marshmallow/Blood in my mouth, teeth on the floor, compound fracture shut in the door.”
This kind of comic book fiendishness runs through the whole record, the songs a series of vignettes, highlighting Satfford’s gift for painting lurid pictures with an economy of words.
It’s the aural equivalent of a graphic novel, think Sin City and you’ll be on the right lines.
The musical chemistry between the duo is keenly in evidence as they traverse multiple genres, from the ramshackle rockabilly of Worst In Me, to the Big Beat of Hide The Knives!
Juniper Sunday plays like the soundtrack to a groovy ‘sixties gumshoe caper like Matt Helm or Paul Newman’s Harper, while the dirty jazz of Savanah of Havana brings to mind Tom Waits at his scuzziest.
The influence of early Nick Cave is most keenly felt in the lurching stagger of tracks like Look Behind You Look Again and Horror Film House.
Demented Blues stomper, There’s Someone Trying To Get In, brings to mind Jon Spencer – its wonderful descending chorus sounding like the entire band is slowly falling down the stairs.
There’s even a full-blooded Bluesy cover of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd’s trippy Arnold Layne.
But rising head and shoulders above the rest in this great collection of songs is the stupendous Termite City.
Latin jazz meets crime scene guitars and loud hailer vocals as Stafford bellows “what have to you done to the fatal city?”.
“Parasites, cellar bar invites, crepuscular lights, inner city delights/Termites, Termites, Termites!”
It’s as mad as a sackful of badgers – a screaming junkyard joy – which in a better world would be Number One in every country.
Bone Architecture is loud, louche and a bit loose at the seams, but above all it’s Fun with a capital F – and hats off to Stafford and Butcher for that.
- The 12-track ‘Bone Architecture’ LP is out now via Black Lagoon Records and is available on CD and everywhere online, including Spotify and Apple Music. Both digital and physical formats can be ordered via Bandcamp and the Louder than War shop.
- For more about Harry Stafford visit his Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages
- Keep up with Marco Butcher on Facebook and Twitter.