Tasked with reviewing Young Marble Giants I approached the commission in just the same way as has served me well so far in my short chimpomatic career. For the uninitiated it should be explained that as well as being provided with the album the record company's PR people often forward info and biogs of the band to provide reviewers with the bigger picture. Personally, I only check the PR once I've listened to the album a few times preferring to approach it with fresh ears and guard against believing any hype. Such a tactic seems to have paid off thus far. After drawing my own conclusions I'll check for any extra detail that might explain any mysteries or ambiguities in the music and I might do some internet research checking for some kind of back-story which might put the the whole project in context. Usually it is a process that confirms initial impressions. Not in the case of Young Marble Giants.
Until I read up on Young Marble Giants I was set to say something along these lines......I've listened to Colossal Youth several times now and though its generally been an enjoyable listen I can't really see the point of them . There are a few stand out tracks such as 'Constantly Changing' and 'Music for Evenings' which with their controlled choppy riffs, aloof vocals and edgy bass showcase the groups understated and spare sound. But I'd now find it difficult to hum a single tune or recall any words. The general feel of Colossal Youth is of an early morning deserted town centre in the twilight period when revellers have headed home and the milk float and postman are yet to start their rounds. Its all a fairly solid package but nothing outstanding. It's moody but nothing on say Tricky. Its atmospheric but not in the league of Portishead. Dark but not as haunted as Joy Division. You want minimal stick with Kraftwerk. You want drum beats programmed through a synth then check out Boards of Canada. If you're after a female voice with some attitude then don't give up on PJ Harvey....you want a drone then look up Tram..... you want to be soothed go back to old school Mazzy Star or even Drugstore....you get the picture. It's hard to see how Young Marble Giants fit in and what their purpose is. I'd give it a 2 and half.
Having read up on them I now feel that I would have done Young Marble Giants a serious dis-service. It turns out this isn't new but a release of the only full length album the Welsh outfit released, all packaged in conjunction with an EP, a couple of singles and out-takes as bonus tracks. Not only that but it was all released over a quarter of a century ago. Though never popular in the mainstream these guys were a seminal act credited with influencing a generation of musicians and at the time possessed a small but dedicated and fanatical cult following. It all makes sense now. In this context Young Marble Giants are something of a revelation producing sounds so at odds to their punk contemporaries and providing a blue print for all the acts already name checked here. At the time it must have seemed that they were from another aural world and should be saluted for being so visionary. I stand by my assertion that they pale in comparison to those who have succeeded them but deserve their reputation and if you're looking for the roots of some of your lo-fi heroes then Young Marble Giants are well worth checking out.
31st Aug 2007 - Tumblr4
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