Obvious - Obvious

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Tube Records
Catalog Number: 0002
Format: CD
Total Time: 42:54:00

Obvious isn't quite so. That is, you might be expecting one thing by looking at the album artwork - bright, colorful, in a style I've seen gracing techno-dub-ambient releases from Moonshine, Astralwerks, and similar labels. Of course, the rainbow of hues might also suggest some sticky sweet pop from some young Euro-teens. Instead, what is inside is a variety of flavours - from the Marillion/Pink Floyd-esque opener "Angel," to The Gathering-like "Laika." While it begins in an acoustic-Jethro Tull like fashion with Byrony Shearmur providing the Anderson like vocals, it slowly morphs into something like "Liberty Bell" off How To Measure A Planet ? an album which also had a spacecraft on the cover. I thought of Missing Persons, The Motels, and Berlin, and not just because of the female vocals of Carol Gee. In between "Angel" and "Laika" we get tracks that are slightly off-kilter and even another one that made me think of Jethro Tull.

Obvious is the second release from Tube Records, an Internet only label begun by JR Hackenbush III (better known as Pink Floyd's recording engineer Andy Jackson; the first release was Mythical Burrowing Animals). Obvious is Jackson's first solo album. Joining Jackson, are Mark O'Gorman, Gee, Shearmur on vocals, Gary Wallis on drums, Tom Toms on violin, and, to quote the liner notes, "Dave Sturt played splendid rubbery bits" on "More Bads". O'Gorman has a nice warm voice that sounds so familiar but I can't quite place the artist I'm thinking of. But, I also thought of Alessandro Serri (Eris Pluvia/Ancient Veil). "More Bads" is kind of trippy, where spoken-word lyrics are accompanied by a swirly, wavy, undulating rhythm - like ribbon rippling in the wind in slow motion. Or like something out of the Beatles Yellow Submarine film - you know, the one with the Blue Meanies, etc. "Me=MC2" is a mellow, psychedelic track that starts out a bit folky (think a wry Bob Dylan), by the middle is quiet early-Beatles-esque, and then back to the acoustic. Tom Waits also comes to mind, but mainly as an impression.

"Flimflam Man" is the treated vocal track that is verging on the eccentric. While the main vocals are delivered with a rap-like delivery ? spacey-rap ? a rubbery backing vocal stretches and contracts like a funhouse mirror or someone playing with their taffy. It ends in a funky, industrial kinda way that made me instantly think of The Wall - of the animated sections of the film.

But then we have the smoothly swirly, atmospheric keys of "Motherless Child," where O'Gorman sounds quite different here than on "Angel," as I thought a bit of Red Jasper's Davy Dodds without the Celtic colourings. It is, obviously, a bit Floyd-esque as well. Though it does lighten up a bit towards the middle, becoming a little more popish, and then a bit industrial. The repeated refrains of "angel" which appeared in "Angel" return here, in a slightly altered form. O'Gorman's voice takes on a cadence of Neil Young for a few bars before he is subsumed by the chorus of voices. Percussive keys close out the track.

"Wax Into Water" begins a bit industrial, harsh and acidic - guitars keen and dive, keys whistle, while percussion taps out a steady beat. Imagine a duet with Ian Anderson and Neil Young as O'Gorman's voice shifts texture in different spots. The bass work here is very loose, taking long slow-motion bounds. The guitar work here reminds me of U2's The Edge from the Joshua Tree period - sharp slashes of sound like knives. The percussion and bass is most prominent, driving the song forward, not quite like metal, but with the same kind of energy.

A diverse mix of sounds, though most tend toward a harsher, more digital spectrum. This an album that isn't obvious on a first listen, where you need to listen to it more than once to peel back the layers of sound, to sit back, headphones on, and let is slowly seep into your consciousness, as it sonically rich enough to create it's own environment. It's only then you realize that the colours chosen are perfect for the mood of the album - as it is warm oranges and yellows (vocals, keys, violin) with just a hint of blue (percussion, bass, effects). Only two things are obvious about Obvious - the band and album are called Obvious (as there no suggestion otherwise) and that I'm obviously recommending it to you.

Angel (7:38) / More Bads (4:20) / Me = MC2 (2:30) / Flimflam Man (4:13) / Motherless Child (5:59) / Wax Into Water (8:33) / Laika (9:41)

Mark O'Gorman - vocals
Carol Gee - vocals
Gary Wallis - drums
Bryony Shearmur - vocals (7)
Tom Toms - violin (1, 2)
Dave Sturt - "splendid rubbery bits" (2)
Bert - loop
Andy Jackson - "anything else"

Obvious (2000)

Genre: Various Genres

Origin UK

Added: March 21st 2001
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1821
Language: english


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