Rob Jones
The Charlatans scored with the 2015 album Modern Nature and the touring around the record also proved to be a big success. Vocalist Tim Burgess is a busy boy at present with DJ commitments, fronting the Vinyl Adventure: From Istanbul to San Francisco project that has resulted in a compilation set and a book-and, as well as live outings with the band that brought him fame-there is also an album of fresh material with New York avant-garde composer Peter Gordon (as dates also circle this link up).

Burgess may be well know to the masses-but, Gordon also has acclaim having worked across several decades-notching up ten albums and there has also been collaborations with Suzanne Vega, Laurie Anderson and Arthur Russell.

A bond that began in 2012 has allowed for creative juices to flow but only whenever Tim and Peter have had the time to unite.  However, a batch of diverse and diligent tunes see the light of day in September 2016. The public witness the arrival of the ‘Same Language, Different Worlds’ and Gordon has taken production duties. A variety of visitors aid the atmospherics including the Modern Lovers-Ernie Brooks, Nik Void of Factory Floor and Mustfa Ahmed and Peter Zummo who are renowned for their work with Russell.

This is not a trip down Charlatans lane! There is a nod to traditional song writing grooves as the album opens but from that point this is more like a moody movie soundtrack to an intense thriller-with a range of twists and turns rather than a collection of radio friendly indie gems. Let’s give Tim credit for sticking his neck out because he knows how to construct a catchy chorus but he proves here that he can challenge himself to step outside of his comfort zone. The influence of Gordon is obviously predominant when it comes to the aural alchemy and the band of beat brothers assembled ably support the songs. The Charlatans hard core are not going to salivate over these contents after a few plays which is usually the case with a premier release from the Some Friendly veterans. This record can take a more studied approach but stick with the project and the awards will be immense.  A prime example is the Jah Wobble once again meets Brian Eno vibe of ‘Temperature High’ and ‘Like I already Do’ as opposed to the most obvious commercial offspring appearing via the single ‘Begin’ which offers a mellifluous 80’s electro feel . Then there are ‘Ocean Terminus’ and ‘Tracks of my Past’ which could be side two components of ‘Screamadelica’-plus ‘Oh Men’ and its taste of a 21st century remix of early 70’s Stones balladeering.

In between we also have ‘Say’ a distant cousin to ‘Being Boiled’ aided by remnants of the late, great Mick Karn on Sax . ‘Around’ has elements of Holger Czukay v. Cabaret Voltaire but the Burgess voice affords the song a more subtle lead. Unguarded’ again has  Japan undertones with a Giorgio Moroder coating and topped of with a free jazz goes tribal decoration.

Tim and Peter offer harmony from two heads-that is not always obvious but never monotonous. The three minute groove maxim is not deployed as the norm. Therefore, the contents can provoke both thought and an escape from the usual rhythm rituals. Isn’t that how good music should be? Yes!