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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Durutti Column - Valuable Passage

Name: Durutti Column
Album: Valuable Passage
Year: 1986
Style: Ambient, Post-Punk
Similar Bands: Cocteu Twins, New Order, Joy Division, Soundtracks, Jesus & Mary Chain
"One-Word"Review: Lofty Dreamscape
Based Out Of: Manchester England
Label: Relativity Records, Factory UK, Important Record Distributors
Valuable Passage - Cover, Sleeves, Record
Valuable Passage - Back, Sleeves, Record

Valuable Passage (1986)
11. Prayer 3:21
12. Spent Time 4:09
13. Without Mercy (4-7) 6:44
14. Without Mercy (10-12) 7:04/
15. The Room 5:58
16. Blind Elevator Girl 10:04
17. Tomorrow 4:02
18. LFO Mod 6:21

Album Rating (1-10): 4.5

Members & Other Bands:
Manunagh Fleming - Cor Anglais, Oboe
Chris Nagle - Producer
Vini Reilly - Bass, Piano, Drum Programming, Guitar, Vocals, Producer (Ed Banger & the Nosebleeds, Morrissey, Pauline Murray & the Invisible Girls)
Caroline Lavelle - Cello
Bruce Mitchell - Percussion, Congas, Xylophone, Drum Programming (Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias)
Anthony H Wilson - Producer
Michael Johnson - Producer
Mervyn Fletcher - Sax
Richard Henry - Trombone (London Scratch Orchestra, Stan Sulzmann Big Band)
Tim Kellett - Trumpet (Olive, Simply Red)
Blaine Reininger - Violin, Viola (Falling Infinities, Tuxedomoon)
John Metcalfe - Viola (Duke Quartet, Kreisler String Orchestra, London Scratch Orchestra, Millennia Ensemble)
Phil "Snake Davies" - Sax
8vo- Design
Peter Saville - Design
Kevin Cummins - Photographer
Stuart Pickering - Producer

Unknown-ness: I’ve never heard of this band. And let me start with saying that I bought this album with only record 2 inside. The sleeve for the first record is there, but the record was not. So I can only review the second half of this double album. The design looks cold, desolate and synthesized. It reminds me of OMD’s early design: square, black and white.

Album Review: “Prayer” is actually the start to side 3, not the album beginning, but seeing as this is a compilation; the album is not created for cohesive play. But this starts out solemn and dark, and it reminds me of “Warning Sign” by Hail Social. It is frosty, magical, and dreamy. It is slow and meandering, with no specific direction. It feels like it could have been useful in 80’s soap operas, in some sort of sad, reminiscing montage. It ends in an uplifting synth keyboard clarity, as if the dreamer was about to wake up
“Spent Time” has New Order-ish bass line, but the icy synth in the background really dates the production style. There are hushed, whispery monotone vocals barely sung and mixed in the background, a bit like Joy Division. The song is very repetitive, so it feels like a long song.
“Without Mercy (4-7)” begins with a repetitive, two liquidy, echoing guitar hooks overlapping and some strings in the background. It sounds like slowed down Mega Man level music. A trumpet is added later on, further accenting the trickling, liquid feeling the song creates: like ice melting and the water running below the still solid surface. It feels like it could go on forever, but it eventually just fades out.
“Without Mercy (10-12)” starts with a trumpet salute to royalty walking into a thrown room. This too is in somewhat slow motion, but it feels like, to me, that it is telling the story of two young royals courting and dancing together after an evenings’ feast.

“The Room” has electric beam effects echo across the soundscape. And what sounds like a Theremin is played in the background, quite repetitively. More quiet, reserved vocals are added sparingly to the background, creating a delicate and futuristic lullaby. I’m recalling imagery from the Ice Palace in The Never Ending Story.
“Blind Elevator Girl” is a long instrumental song, beginning with another welcoming royalty hook on repeat. It begins to sound like a real pop or prog composition with steady drums, and horns, but once the drums disappear, they take the rock song template with them, and the song reverts back to a meandering thought that could coalesce at any time. This song is actually a little jazz-funky with its combination of bass, guitar and horn.
“Tomorrow” feels like a Ween guitar ballad at the beginning. It is folky, and acoustic sounding, while still in the presence of echo. Unwavering vocals lightly sing over the guitar and plucked string accompaniment. The somber voice is comfortable with dying, by admitting “tomorrow never comes.” And once the horn is added, the music takes on a sad Belle & Sebastian quality.
“LFO Mod” is a little more organic in its piano and shuffling synth background. It changes synth settings about a minute and half in to be more bubbly and liquid, and is accompanied by an acoustic guitar crying out a fluttering Santana melody. Later, a stereotypic sexy sax is layered over the warbling, watery keyboard. It is as if the background template is set, and guest instruments take their turns jamming out overtop, creating a different vibe with each transition. And it ends in a fade out.

Stand Out Track: Tomorrow

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