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
9. My Dog's Got No Nose
13. We Are The Plan
With Sarah - Are You Sitting Comfortably? (Womb Records)
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.
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.
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
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.
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.