archive review – originally published on the losing today site c. 2006 …..
SCHIZO FUN ADDICT
THE ATOM SPARK HOTEL(Canarsie)
Whether you believe me or not I’ve had so much fun in the company of this corking full length that I forgot to review it – still after several emails from their press agent we’ve shifted our butt despite those emails possessing a manner of written language so graphic that even our trusted search engine queried on more than one occasion as to the wisdom of such knowledge preferring instead the safety of the well used adage ‘ignorance is bliss’. Of course we joke.
Now the background – Jane and Jet’s parents met and married when they were kids, several years before this union Jane had a dream whereupon she was visited by angels who told her never to utter a spoken word again unless in song. Bonding over music Jet and Jane – Blondie, Baccharach and hip hop in case you were wondering they started tinkering about making music. Relocating to Manhatten the band made demo tapes for friends and word soon began to spread the vocals, programming, synth, bass combo were augmented by guitarist Hadrian and drummer Patrick. Two albums have resulted ‘Just a dimension away’ (2000) and ‘Diamonds’ (2001) – they are still based in NYC and when the whim takes them wow the cool cognoscenti with the rare live appearance.
So that was then and this is now.
Three years on they emerge after a lengthy hiatus and return to get their shit together. ‘The Atom Spark Hotel’ is the third, and long anticipated, full length and it doesn’t disappoint. Enchanting not simply for its undeniable naivety which is here by the bucket load, but more so because of its seemingly disjointed appearance, it’s like having a mixed box of jigsaw pieces all belonging to different puzzles – that said if unguarded this baby will if you let it knock you clean off your feet and onto the seat of your pants. ‘Atom Spark Hotel’ is a seriously off centre work that’s almost embarrassed by its ability, there’s no doubting SFA have a talent for crafting solid gold nuggets the envy of all the alarming part is the way the bury them deep in the sand preferring instead to spend the day idly making the strangest looking sand castles on the beach of pop. Primarily a softly mellowing psyche album, at times discordant at others absolutely breathtaking, beats, noise, a little new wave, a little CBGB’S, a little baggy – the love of the stripped down Velvets sound is all to obvious, there’s moments here where you swear that both Galaxie 500 (here bitten by the groove bug) and early career Mercury Rev (c. ‘Car Wash Hair’) have been plunged in a tumble dryer to come out dishevelled, frayed and a little unfocused around the edges.
For the would be listener ‘Atom Spark Hotel’ will all at once confuse and yet confirm your trust in pop, it’ll frustrate and frighten, there’s no maps here, there’s no route this lot aren’t a bunch of tree hugging band wagon chasing wannabe’s in fact it’d be safe to say that this album is their party and you the listener have been invited along for the show – your choice.
A superbly raw cover of Frank and Walters much forgotten and woefully overlooked ‘Fashion crisis in New York’ is a perfect way to settle into the album after the deliciously homely opener ‘Atom Spark Hotel’ fades from view. ‘Atom Spark Hotel (part 2)’ initially strikes out sounding like the Pixies before manifesting into a partly fucked up angular charged sugar glazed carnival of wah wah’s with a punch drunk post baggy edge – think of a head on collision between My Jealous God and My Electric Love Affair – damn cool. ‘Eraser’ with its untoward psychosis reminiscent of PIL’s ‘Rise’ is wonderfully fraught nailed to the spot by Sonic Youth like schizoid riffs while by the time you get to the adorable and perhaps best cut here ‘Solon’ its all to obvious to see that Jane is the calm to Jet’s storm.
Any remaining doubts about this album’s merits should be easily cast aside once the parting brace ‘Jellstar’ and ‘Neo Theme’ come into view. Sprawling chill out riffs, rumbling floor quaking bass underpins and a certifiable druggy demeanour parades the gorgeously psychotropic and dirtily delicious ‘Jellstar’ – think Cobra Killer squaring up to Primal Scream with Public Enemy mixing up things in the background. ‘Neo Theme’ rounds up what’s been a superb full length, lo-fi hallucinogenic pop that has you imagining Joe Meek getting to grips with remixing the Go! Team’s usually off balanced funky cocktail of 70’s kid TV and NY hip hop and laboratory testing it, splicing it up to be put on a slow bake then tie dyed and fed through the lysergic mixer by a team of boffins made up of the Busy Signals and Lenola.
Essential – like your shitting me – of course it is.