A Certain Ratio — ACR Loco (25th Sept., 2020)

UK FLAG                                                                     A Certain Ratio — ACR Loco (25th Sept., 2020)  A Certain Ratio — ACR Loco (25th Sept., 2020)∩  V prosinci 1982 odletěla post~punková skupina A Certain Ratio do New Yorku na dvoudenní pobyt v proslulém nočním klubu Danceteria. Byla vřele očekávána a byla považována za Anglo~ekvivalent tehdejších hudebních miláčků města Talking Heads. Obě skupiny úspěšně zaujaly funkční přístup k psaní písní a propojily africké inspirované bubnování s naléhavými kytarami a hypnotickými slovními hříčkami. Obě donedávna pokrývali klasiku soulu a funku a bylo známo, že se oblékají o něco chytřeji než průměrní pouliční pankáči.
∩  Pro první noc, kdy zahráli, byla objednána místní tanečnice a zpěvačka s podivně chytlavým náboženským jménem Madonna, aby je podpořila při svém debutovém živém vystoupení. Bylo to předzvěstí toho, co mělo následovat, protože krátce poté se všeho zmocnila prvoplánová a převlečená moderna (jakési lákadlo na jedno použití), čehož důsledkem bylo, že vzkvétající underground vypadl z milosti rekordních davů potenciálních nakupujících. Ale tento výkyv směrem k sociokulturní prázdnotě a sebekázni neodradil členy A Certain Ratio, kteří pokračovali po své identifikovatelně nepravidelné cestě. 
⊆⊗⊇    Síla přírody ukryta v A Certain Ratio, se balí do klubíčka jako jedna z nejvynalézavějších a nejpoutavějších kapel na živém okruhu, tedy něco, čím se kapela už léta pohodlně chválí na svých bedrech, s oceněním, které se na ně valí každou show pro to, co lze popsat jako samba, pop, funk electro masterclass. Gang z Manchesteru určitě ví, jak uspořádat nezapomenutelnou párty.
⊆⊕⊇    Na scénu vstupují praví legendární a zakládající členové Martin Moscrop (kytara, zpěv, bicí, trubka), Jez Kerr (basa, zpěv) a Donald Johnson (bicí, zpěv, basa), které uvítala spousta zvuků účastníků přímo do Do The Do, Fight before And Then Again: dunění jako atomová hluková bomba, od těchto manchesterských hudebních titánů není žádná úleva. Martin a Donald mají na pódiu jedinečnou chemii/interakci mezi bicími a perkusemi, dokonce máme basový duel mezi Donaldem a Jezem, oba plácají do basů, jako by to bylo to poslední, co na této zemi budou dělat.
⊆⊗⊇    To, že Weatherall a Denise Johnson nečekaně zemřeli letos v létě 2020 (July 27, 2020 Manchester, England), je moment hořkosladký, ale „Get a Grip“ naznačuje neustálý pohyb vpřed a věčný optimismus, umocněný energií od vokalistky jménem Maria Uzor. Účast Denise Johnson, což byla kdysi milovaná manchesterská zpěvačka, která propůjčila svůj hlas pro Primal Scream, New Order, Pet Shop Boys etc., je přesto osvěžením alba. Nejvděčnější jsou na albu úžasné rytmy, dechy, elektronika a ženské hlasy v pozadí. Martin Moscrop, Jez Kerr, Donald Johnson
Formed: 1977 in Flixton, Greater Manchester, England
Location: Manchester, UK
Album release: 25th Sept., 2020
Record Label: Mute
Duration:     24:33+25:31= 50:04
Tracks:
Side A.
1. Friends Around Us   5:56
2. Bouncy Bouncy   4:18
3. Yo Yo Gi   5:12
4. Supafreak   5:16
5. Always In Love   3:51
Side B.
1. Family   4:52
2. Get A Grip   4:53
3. Berlin   4:08
4. What’s Wrong   4:46
5. Taxi Guy   6:52
Description:
ζ≡•   Signed by Jez Kerr, Martin Moscrop and Donald Johnson as well as designer Trevor Johnson. 
ζ≡•   Back with their first new album in 12 years, a confident and revitalised ACR jumped back into the studio following their most successful tour in over 20 years.
ζ≡•   ACR Loco feels like an accumulation of ACR’s DNA from point zero in 1977 through to 2020 and sounds like a band who have effortlessly perfected their craft.
ζ≡•   An album to dance to, cry to, fall in love to and most importantly, to party to.
ζ≡•   ACR Loco by the core ACR members Jez Kerr, Martin Moscrop and Donald Johnson, are joined by long term partners Tony Quigley, Denise Johnson and Matt Steele, plus special guests Sink Ya Teeth’s Maria Uzor and Gemma Cullingford, Factory Floor’s Gabe Gurnsey and Manchester luminaries Mike Joyce and Eric Random.
Review
by Matt Cotsell ⌊24 Sep 2020⌋ Score: ★★★½
∩  In December 1982, the post~punk group A Certain Ratio flew to New York for a two night residency at the notorious Danceteria nightclub. They had been warmly anticipated, being seen as the Anglo equivalent to the city’s then musical darlings Talking Heads. Both groups successfully took a functional approach to songwriting and fused African inspired drumming with urgent guitars and hypnotic wordplay. Both had recently covered soul and funk classics, and were known to dress a little smarter than the average street punks.
∩  The first night they played, a local dancer and singer with the weirdly catchy religious name, Madonna, was booked to support them in her debut live performance. It was a portent for what was to follow, as shortly after, the allure of disposable and prepackaged modernity took hold and the flourishing underground fell out of grace with record buying crowds. But that swing towards socio-cultural blankness and self~aggrandising didn’t deter the members of A Certain Ratio, who carried on down their identifiably irregular path.
∩  Fast forward to the year 2020 and, amongst much else, 40 years have elapsed since their debut album The Graveyard And The Ballroom, and the band are releasing ACR Loco, their 11th album. It arrives in the midst of a renaissance of sorts, following last year’s weighty and widely commended ACR: Box collection which traced their evolution as a band, very much a product of the city of Manchester, collectively in tune with their surroundings. Their sound mutated as rapidly as the city began to find itself gentrified. Lumped in initially with Joy Division, they were precise and feisty starting out, all stuttering bass lines and staccato drum fills. They then quickly implemented the compulsory Balearic house energy associated with the other Factory bands like The Happy Mondays of the early ’90s before settling into their current manifestation, a blend of off kilter dance pop, with a sprinkling of tropicalia, NuYorican soul and big beat in equal measure.
∩  As the album title infers, ACR Loco addresses the crazy state of the planet right now. Starting with Friends Like Us, it seeks to critique some of the interpersonal disconnect that plagues humanity. The miasmic panting melody hangs around like a haze, untethered and diaphanous. Opinions about relationships and behaviours are debated until the impervious beats find their resolution and solidify into a drum and bass fuelled hymnal. Bouncy Bouncy begins with a manifesto, an address to listeners to rediscover the sense of community spirit lost in the fight against the continued onslaught of capitalist greed and to regain the joy of responding to music, before developing into a bonkers smash of cosmic funk and Franco~Latin pop in which vocodered robot choirs battle Mancunian preachers and smoky French seductresses. Drums tumble in, and cowbells sound out as it brings to mind the kind of crate digging glee evident in the early ’90s chart bothering singles by S’Express and Deee~Lite.
∩  Punk funk stormer Yo Yo Gi continues the revelries with samples of northern bus drivers overlaid with onboard travel information, all broadcasting out over a wobbly 808 Balearic thump. This number doesn’t need to explore options; it’s guiding you onwards to unknown destinations. Similarly, Supafreak boldly lays out the band’s intention: “We want to funk.” The lyrics however speak of being out of place, trying different tacks, needing guidance. The bassline skips and horns blare, the sound of a city alive. When they get to the sentimental Always In Love, the party winds down to a fidgety pledge of encouragement, demanding listeners remain true to themselves. Comparable to the recent releases by their contemporaries Blancmange, it shares that group’s dependence on modest electronic structures and sentimental evaluation.
∩  Family is further reminder of the band’s sonic roots, replete with slapped bass, dissonant idioms and neo~soul evangelising, whilst Get A Grip is a suggestive paean to the hazards of sensual uncertainty. Wah~wah guitars scuff across rumbling basslines as the song’s narrator seeks transparency. What’s Wrong continues with the practice of scraps of travel information; this time, an air traffic controller asks the occupants of a vehicle what’s troubling them, advising help is on the way. Further soundbites convey an awareness of the increasingly bureaucratic menace of data surveillance we’ve apparently signed ourselves up for, and our dependence on technology to sate our expanding sexual urges. The record ends with the contradictory Taxi Guy. Peppered with fragmented crowd noise, carnival drums and a barrage of party whistles over an increasingly spiralling Balearic refrain, in the last few seconds it bites its tongue and succumbs to some agreeably flamboyant and squelchy acid house.
∩  A heady amalgam of Ibiza chill~out anthems and Carnival bangers, with poignant choruses and repeated minor chords, ACR Loco is a stomping reminder to celebrate the eccentric pleasures of life in multicultural cities and the liberating night life they offer. At its core is an international party record, being released as the world metaphorically and literally burns, asking for a safe place to touch down.
∩  https://www.musicomh.com/
Also:
AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman; Score: ★★★½
∩  https://www.allmusic.com/album/acr-loco-mw0003410665
Label: https://mutebank.co.uk/collections/a-certain-ratio
Biography: https://www.allmusic.com/artist/a-certain-ratio-mn0000918400/biography
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