The new Bailterspace album
You'll remember that recently the news came of a new Bailterspace album - and that prompted me to offer up some memories of the band. Well Strobosphere has arrived - you could download the single free and then for a week or so you could stream the album - but I resisted hearing the single more than once outside of the album and didn't want to sit tied to my computer for the experience of the new Bailterspace album.
It's in my hands though now - the vinyl - and it's on my iPod, it's been accompanying me on walks around town. It always felt right walking around to the sounds of Wammo and Capsul and now there's Strobosphere to update that sound and feel.
Immediately, as soon as Things That We Found kicks off the album, you could be forgiven for thinking this is an album that has been sitting in the can for 20 years - a hidden gem finally out from the vaults.
Those big proud ringing open chords - they're here. And the drawling vocals, sometimes hiding but in most cases more to the fore than on previous records. The title track is next and I'm still not sure I'm listening to Bailterspace in 2012 - it could be 1992 or 1994 or 1989 or 2002. And I'm fine with this as Blue Star and Polarize move through. There is, on Blue Star, evidence of a jangly old pop song, a hint of where Black Rebel Motorcycle Club wanted to go with songs before falling over themselves in attempts to rejig the collected magpie findings of their musical nest. And Polarize has Alister Parker biting down on the chords, keeping a tighter rein than usual - the songs are so often anchored by Brent MacLachlan but here it's Parker keeping this song's melody right in front of him, even if you instantly imagine it six inches in front only and down by his shoes, his eyes fixed on the floor so as to keep it pinned down.
No Sense has a looser wrist hitting the strings and doesn't so much suggest that the band has been listening to the likes of Interpol - more that Interpol never really had a handle on how to create this sort of song as anything more lasting than a fad.
For Meeting Place we hear the Bailterspace of earlier records - that chime, the ringing/wringing guitar just escaping the splosh of hi-hats and that hair-trigger snare-drum.
Just as I thought Island might turn into Nirvana's About a Girl it shifts due to Parker channelling Iggy Pop with the vocal. The whine hasn't been refined - it's all but gone, it's as if we're hearing him in post-rock crooner mode. And I like it. This sound is carried over to OP1, a slithering sliver of a song. And then Live by the Ocean could almost make you wonder if Bailterspace has been listening to Kurt Vile for an update of the mumbled Lou Reed delivery - and then you realise that Bailterspace albums are made in a vacuum - unconcerned with sounding like anything other than what Bailterspace's music is meant to be.
Some people might not be happy at the brief (37-minute) running time and at the lack of warped, spacy jam-pieces (in the vein of Argonaut) but others will be happier to hear short song-based pieces.
All I know at this stage is that I'm happy to have one of my favourite bands back - and now what we require, obviously, is a tour. Can we make that happen? Are you keen to see Bailterspace doing the rounds of the country once again? Would you go to see them? And have you got on board with Strobosphere already? What do you think? I love the album - but at the moment I love it simply because it exists - it's here. And I've wanted a new Bailterspace album (and tour) for a decade or so.
I'm also just excited to have something like this - an album that feels like a return to form and a continuation of form; an album that doesn't feel like a disappointing new sound, or a repeat of the old and obvious.
How about you? Will you be buying Strobosphere on vinyl? Or getting hold of the album on another format? Have you heard it already and it's not doing it for you? Or can you not wait to get on board with this album? Go directly to the Arch Hill site for more details.
Postscript: I've used the one-word Bailterspace in this post because that's how it appears on the new album. Previously I've written Bailter Space (as two words) - as I did here - because that was how the band was known.