Boomkat Product Review:
Absolutely class - as in lokey AOTY potential - debut album from Hull-based conceptual artist Richie Culver; cutting to the marrow of modern life in the UK’s hinterlands and peripheries in an essential album for followers of Mark Leckey, Teresa Winter, Blackhaine, Klein, Logos, Dale Cornish.
Building on the cult rep of his initial link-up with Blackhaine in ’21, and subsequent turn on Superpang, Culver gets right under the skin of UK prole life with a poetically astringent insight to northern england during a frankly fucked up period. Prompted by his return home to the staunchly working class city of Hull after years spent in a bigger metropolis, Culver instinctively pulls his distinctive visual practice and vernacular into musically metaphoric forms on ‘I Was Born By The Sea.’ Deliciously DOA Humberside vowels are delivered in sparing turns-of-phrase, mixing spoken word observation and bleakly affective electronic backdrops that hit particularly hard and with a resoundingly evocative nuance for listeners who share his provenance, and no doubt transfix anyone fascinated by vital forms of anti-art from the margins.
Fulminated in the shadow of the pandemic and the iniquities of Tory policy, and thizzed with the briny tang of the north sea, the eight songs bitterly evoke his end-of-the-road seaside birthplace Withernsea (just outside Hull, and down the coast from Teresa Winter’s Bridlington), as well as times spent under the roiling grey skies of Hull, which, like Mark Leckey’s The Wirral, reflects the estuarial murk of The Humber that threatens to slosh over into the city. As anyone from those places will attest, the environment indelibly colours life, and we can also hear the same grind of flatlands and the ghosts of knackered Hull industry in Culver’s music that also injected a threat to Throbbing Gristle’s templates forged on its docksides. Like all the above, Culver locates a compelling sort of romance and ascetic sentiment from a bleakness evoked by The Humber and The North Sea’s zones of liminality.
Embarking with a delacquered take on what has become glamourized forms of deconstructed rave in ’Nervous Energy’, Culver acts as proper voice-in-your-head presence with deeply memorable epithets like “there’s more mobility scooter repair shop and bookies/than there are bookshops”, giving way to the inspired ambient torpor of ‘Daytime TV’ and its mantra “I used to do nothing, everyday, seven days a week”, while the album’s mid-section ‘It’s Hard To Get To Know You’, ‘Create a Lifestyle Around Your Problems’ and ‘Pigeon Flesh’ even evoke the worlds within worlds of Hull’s son Basil Kirchin via TG in their oblique K-holing synecdoches.
Relief of sorts comes with the BC-esque radiance of ‘Love Like An Abcess’ and its reassurance of (fucking lol) a “baseball bat by the bedside” see his thoughts trail off into ‘Post Traumatic Fantasy’ and an affectively stark riff on “english seaside towns in January” on his title song, dialling up the atavistic seduction of the sea and borderland fictive quality of the same coastal region that inspired Tolkein during convalescence from traumas of WWI. Ah lad you really got us with this record; surely one of this decade’s early landmarks for outsider art musick.