archive review originally posted on the losing today site c. 2004 ….
Okay a covers album. Oh…mmmm you might think, and yes my first thought too, what on earth causes a band who’ve been around for over 10 years to suddenly decide to devote a whole album to interpretations of other people’s material.
Well the story goes something like this. The Furtips along with a few other fellow Dutch indie ensembles were asked to submit material for a new project to be overseen by Animal World Recordings, who at this point where feeling particularly pleased with themselves following the reception to their Shaggs tribute CD. Suddenly financial collapse loomed on the horizon and belts were tightened as a consequence resulting in the project sitting high on the shelf getting a suntan and a dusty skin. By way of a few prods and a number of anxious phone calls the Furtips were exonerated from the project and allowed to release the material via their own website.
A clue to this release is further offered by an attributed quote to Albert Einstein found on the spine of the CD which simply reads “the secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources”. Boy, if ever a quote was taken at its literal meaning.
‘Gourmet Sounds’ not only reveals a band on top of their game but furthermore it offers a vague insight into the ensembles collective mindset, and boy it’s a place you don’t want to stay to long labouring as it does between the finite line that separates genius and lunacy, a band who know they can play cute pop at the drop of a hat and yet for the greater part belie it all with a crooked menace. If reference points are needed or worthwhile, Furtips attitude towards other artists material is pretty much akin to the Fall in that they make the songs their own albeit with the aid of a few spots of mix ‘n’ matching from other unlikely sources which is an achievement in itself if you consider the set that’s on offer, take for instance Per Ubu’s immortal ’30 seconds over Tokyo’ reduced to an oddly unsettling mass of out of time percussion and drone dub and sounding like a wired Blockheads c. ‘D.I.Y’ jamming with a particularly angulated Killing Joke.
Swell Maps legendary ‘Read about Seymour’ is rekindled and remoulded in analogue electronic heaven and dusted down with an electro-clash spine that gives most of the pretenders of the genre a serious run for their money, think Ladytron boogying with Kraftwerk (seriously). Pet Shop Boys are next in the firing line with ‘Rent’ and rightly so, let’s be honest it always was the most weedy and sadly lacking affair in the Tennant / Lowe canon. On this occasion it’s giving a right royal kicking, the chorus reduced to a meltdown that sounds like the Pixies and Sonic Youth having fisticuffs in the studio, while elsewhere Bowie’s ‘What in the World’ is dragged through the shredder that has all the hallmarks of Devo being the Pretty Things doing Roxy Music, very scary stuff.
Perhaps the tracks that shows perfectly how wicked these kids can be are their re-branding of TV Personalities ‘A picture of Dorian Gray’ and the Monkees ‘She’, in some house holds any hint of such tampering would probably require the death penalty to be sanctioned upon the perpetrators. The original version of ‘Dorian Gray’ can be found on the Cherry Red retrospective ‘The very best of the Television Personalities’, previously covered by the King of Luxemburg, the Furtips set about the classic by investing upon it a eerie ballad-esque calm that sounds like Nick Cave having his mind unravelled which amazingly out weirds the original by some distance while the heartbroken Monkees minor classic is given a true ‘fuck you then’ treatment aligned to a seriously pissed off bubblegum pop backdrop that’s insanely awkward a light years from its saccharined older sibling.
Demented and quite obviously delicious.