Whereas their previous outing was directly inspired by early Soft Machine albums, Schnauser’s new “Irritant” scratches the same itch in a different way; it carries on the Canterbury influence in spirit rather than in form.
And there is a lot of spirit here. As always with Schnauser, the approach to music-making is one of reckless abandon. There are no worries what people might think.
If they never cared for or bothered about musical fashions before, why should they now?
Why play it safe when you can focus on “perverse musical and lyrical selections”?
So great British pop it is, scrambled perhaps, and distorted. But on the other hand if it weren’t, well then it would neither be great nor particularly British, would it?
With the inclusion of a sax player, the band is now a five-piece – and it certainly means Schnauser can prog out more in the instrumental passages. While I don’t mind that at all, the highlight for me is the songwriting – which is really all over the place while simultaneously sounding uniquely focused. Compared to earlier records, I hear a bit more of the sweet groove from Duncan’s wonderful wonderful Lord Gammonshire solo album. Meanwhile, Alan Strawbridge’s sense for a twisted melody is blissfully intact.
Another highlight are the voices. Spoken, double tracked, pressed to high pitch through the vocal cords, or just plainly sung vocals – they are all a great pleasure to listen to.
Instant classic – or another lost one? You decide. Gotta go, the phone has taken over my stereo and is ringing loudly!