Listen With Sarah - Are You Sitting Comfortably?
UK Release Date:

24 December 2004

Track Listing:

1. Drum N Berceuse
2. My Crow's Soft Sounds
3. Blue Parsley
4. July (part 1)
5. July (part 2)
6. Frogs Sing, Birds Dance
7. Inconjunctivitis
8. Om-pa-cha-pap-cha-pap
9. My Dog's Got No Nose
10. Dub-cha-pap
11. I.C.
12. Rainsticks
13. We Are The Plan

Listen With Sarah - Are You Sitting Comfortably? (Womb Records)
•• Published: SoundsXP, January 2005
Original article:

John Peel's departure may have left an irreparable tear in the fabric of the musical landscape but, while that becomes more apparent as the months pass, there are many Peel endorsed acts still poking their heads up through the floorboards of the underground. Listen With Sarah (full name Sarah Nelson) is one such artist that attained precious 'Peel approval' and 'Are You Sitting Comfortably?' gathers together four previously unreleased EPs sent to the DJ during the two months prior to his death.

'Animal Hop', which made number 27 in Peel's Festive Fifty, is a bizarre, tuba-trumping, Old MacDonald's farm sampling ditty that introduces the collection. Kitten, cockerel and donkey noises create an odd melody before the brass section parps up to complete what sounds like a sitcom theme tune in the making. A drum and bass mix of the ancient, piano-led BBC soundtrack to 'Listen With Mother' on 'Drum N Berceuse' is then followed by 'My Crow's Soft Sounds', which, although it is made up entirely of PC noises, manages to generate more warmth and soul than Bill Gates could ever dream of.

The humour and playful experimentation of these first few tracks means they have an air of novelty to them but this carefree mood soon evaporates when 'Blue Parsley' casts its shadow over proceedings with its eerie tones and dark, freaked-out folk. However, just as the fear begins to set in, some gentle guitar strumming injects a touch of Lemon Jelly-style jollity, setting your ears up nicely for the icy glide of 'July'. Split into two parts, gentle ambience gradually builds with mellow chords and violin to create a blissful tune that encapsulates all that good downtempo music should be; relaxing yet stirring and a far cry from emotionless chill-out-by-numbers.

An experimental edge is in evidence throughout with samples of birdsong being employed again as percussion on the pounding, techno-tinged 'Frogs Sing, Birds Dance' and other tracks serving just to create an atmosphere like the edgy rattle of 'Inconjunctivitus'. While more straight-forward elements of dance music are in evidence, like the driving drum and bass breakbeats on 'I.C.', any accepted rules are chewed up, twisted and spat out, placing Listen With Sarah firmly on the left-hand side of the genre alongside the beat-manglers and head-crackers found on Ninja Tune or Warp Records.

'Intelligent' dance music can often be self-indulgent navel-gazing music produced for and by chin-stroking geeks, but Nelson injects enough fun and leftfield tomfoolery to avoid the techno anoraks and present us with a lively and varied collection of tempo-shifting, mood-altering electronica.

- Ian Roullier

Copyright © Ian Roullier 2004-2014