belle ghoul

Staying with Elefant a little while longer, it appears they have a brace of treats out now that quite frankly deserve the descriptor essential listening. First up from Belle Ghoul who are currently putting the top coat finish to a debut album planned for release next year. Amid their ranks they feature an Electric 6-er and Jesse Smith – daughter of Patti and Fred Sonic. Entitled ‘songs by other people’ this three track offering is a homage to artists who’ve moved, shaped, inspired and informed the Belle Ghoul journey into pop. Amid the grooves a little Zombies nugget, something by Nick Drake and a little lost treat by Harry Nillson. Originally aired on their ‘odessey and oracle’, I’d always held the notion that ’care of cell ’44’ was one of those untouchable types, much like most of Drake’s work, just perfect as it was and not up for re-evaluation, aside being one of the best and strangest things to have tripped out of the 60’s, its blessed with such an arresting sun shiny radiance that repeat listens herald the occasioning of swooning fits. In the hands of Belle Ghoul its kooky spirit is captured and honed with crystal clear clarity albeit sounding less madcap and distracted than the original it assumes a hitherto unseen lushly hushed baroque pop uncovering which all said sounds more like Left Banke under the watchful eye of Van Dyke Parks. Talking of Van Dyke Parks, loose connections alert for ’swee’ pea’s lullaby’ – originally by Nillson and included on the Dykes’ scored ’Popeye’ film – the string saturated rephrasing by Belle Ghoul is simply bewitching, a sepia trimmed Technicolor dream coat that sounds as though its stepped straight out of a 40’s styled Disney dream factory is all we’ll say about it. Last up Nick Drake’s ’free ride’ – one of those rare occasions when a cover appraisal gets it and rather than seeking to better the original rather more adds a differing perspective to its legacy. In recent times Rhys Marsh and the Beautify Junkyards have done just that with such exquisite execution, add to that list these guys for their take relocates it away from Drake’s faraway mellowed rustic gaze and supplants upon it a spectral soft psych aura distilled in the smoky monochrome haze of fog bound Church key corteges which by our reckoning sounds a tad like a certain Julian Cope channelling the spirit of Syd Barrett. Well cool.

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