Sharp Love Slow Faint
Among thee oddest, most enchanted albums of this strange decade so far, Laurie Tompkins’ turn as avant troubadour is a total must-check for anyone who can draw lines from Ghédalia Tazartès to the nether regions of Scott Walker, via Mica Levi and Star Turn on 45 (Pints)
Refreshing parts of the soul that most records simply don’t touch, ‘Sharp Love Slow Faint’ is Tompkins’ definitive solo opus after the crackpot experiments of his 2017 debut LP ‘45th Generation Roman & European Bob’. Abetted by Ashley Paul’s guitar, sax and vox, and Eliza McCarthy’s keys, the record began as semi-improvised recordings made at Cafe Oto during high summer 2021, and was later overdubbed with Laurie’s vocals, subtly kerned and smeared with FX to deeply uncanny, microdosed effect. There’s certainly a sort of knowing theatricality to proceedings, but feeling as displaced and skewed as much as the upended times that begat its creation. We’ve had the pleasure of living with the album for a while now and cannot shake it’s oddness, arising from Laurie and his collaborators’ grasp of curdled tunings, but most crucially his uniquely expressive vocals, which match and juxtapose the instrumentals in utterly beguiling arrangements.
Toeing the finest line between convention and outré ludicrousness, the baker’s dozen songs play out like an eldritch Lynchian fever dream. At each turn lounge jazz tropes are distorted, literally and metaphorically, to both seduce and make listeners squirm in the best way. Honestly, it does deeply weird things to our head every time, with the queasy, melting keys of opener ‘Pink U’ signalling that we’re going to experience rarely felt sensation for the next half hour; from the groggy cadence of ‘Conk’ thru the briny, burnished jazz noir of ’Sky Sigh’, to the janky caterwaul of ‘Fashion’, to its inverted skronk on ‘Pump Fake’, and a new one to our ears, a détournement of Ballardian erotica in ‘Car Arses’. Ayyyye, it’s off its fucking chops, pals, but in the most skilful, visionary way that’s bound to register heavily with the heads and acolytes of new music. Already in our albums of the year.
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