As the light modern funk of OutKast’s ‘Prototype’ wobbles to its conclusion and Tweet’s smooth ‘Drunk’ gently plays out under an intense atmosphere it’s suddenly startlingly clear why Metronomy are so bloody beautifully laid back. And all of this comes before the avant jazz escapades of The Sa-Ra Creative Partners, who are it can be said like Sun-Ra for hip-hop. This is a veritable plethora of musical discovery. This is Metronomy. This is Late Night Tales.
Late Night Tales has been going for over a decade now, releasing compilation albums curated by artists, serving as a guide to their inspiration they always offer something to feast your ears on and the third instalment this year, compiled for you by Joseph Mount, was always guaranteed to be something special. Metronomy are without a doubt a pop band, but they’ve always been a little more Sbtrkt than Sugababes and their delightful, if not weird, cover of Jean-Michel Jarre’s ‘Hypnose’ is a slow burning sparkler.
There’s a lot on offer here, from the expected ‘Fold4, Wrap5’ of Metronomy fave’s Autechre whose spattering of electro glitches manages to be moodily thought provoking and will o’the wisp alluring to the bizarrely kitsch pop of Kate and Anna McGarrigle whose French Canadian vocals are at once charmingly folky and cheesy. If it’s blissful pop you’re after then it doesn’t come much better than The Alan Parson’s Project ‘Eye in the Sky’ which with its effortless cool and perfect production gloss has clearly been of inspiration for Mount.
Metronomy are today’s experimental pop masters and so it only makes sense that Mount’s takeover of Late Night Tales would be nothing short of wildly varied. With The English Riviera he breathed new life into the quaint streets of his homeland; he painted in a hue usually reserved for the more well-known Riviera. Here Mount breathes new life into a whole word of music which you may have only just discovered. The weird B-movie bass of Tonto’s Expanding Head Band and ‘Cybernaut’ with its minimalist approach is unnerving and the men who were content to bring the funk in the background for Stevie Wonder demand your attention here.
After a few tracks which can be tied thematically you’re probably starting to get the gist of this whole compilation thing, but then along comes Pete Drake’s novelty pedal steel hit ‘Forever’ from 1964. And unless you’re from 1964 then it probably just sounds weird to you. Great, but weird. It’s sort of like if someone mixed whale song with ‘My Girl’. This third of the record strays into a selection of beautifully strange singer songwriters from Appaloosa to the heart breaking sentimentality of Herman Dune who you will be singing along to after a couple of listens guaranteed. One of the most well-known artist on offer here is arguably Cat Power with her staggering ‘Werewolf’ which haunts even as she continues to conjure words. It’s suiting as a final track before the audio prose of Paul Morley and the final part of ‘Lost For Words’.
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It’s four and a half minutes of Paul Morley spewing forth a plethora of adjectives and literary phrases, it’s a mini novel, a poem for the music lovers, or as Morley writes and says best himself, “Belonging to the beat generation, from the spit.”
That line really encompasses all that this album stands for, perhaps in a more literal way, but nevertheless, this is about inspiration, the beats, and most importantly some good hard graft, without all of these artists Metronomy wouldn’t be where they are and so if you like Metronomy you should like this instalment of Late Night Tales.
Late Night Tales is out on the 3rd of September
- Prototype (OutKast)
- Blue Flowers (Dr Octagon)
- Fold4, Wrap5 (Autechre)
- Werewolf (Cat Power)