The fertile mind of Mr Adrian Flanagan appears to have been working on overdrive for this debut single from his new project with singer Candie Payne. For those of you familiar with his work with “Kings Have Long Arms” and “The Arch-Nazards” there will be no surprises around the immediately catchy melodic lines or use of synthesis in an altogether clever way.
The project is called The Chanteuse and theCrippled Claw and the song is called Are You One?
Candie Payne who has a wonderfully clear tone, is the perfect foil to Flanagan’s orchestrations – as evidenced on her previous work with him on the gorgeous ”hit” Big Umbrella (by “Kings Have Long Arms”) – this new song takes matters a step further with a sumptuous layering of analogue sounds providing a memorable backcloth to an insistent and captivating vocal performance. There’s all sorts of things bubbling around my head when I listen to this but the easy one to compare with is John Barry and other 60s sound-trackers of that ilk – I could be listening to an episode of Department S or the Champions. Put it this way, it sounds exceptionally cool and has knocked synth-based pop up a notch or two in the great musical firmament with its’ 3:26 of loveliness. What is does easily demonstrate is that you don’t have to play songs in 4/4 or rattle along at mega-BPM to create a great sound.
Essentially it’s waltz, albeit one couched in the magical layers of synthesis that Adrian appears to be able to conjur up with apparent ease. The verse has immediately memorable melody and the chorus/hook of “Are You One Of Us” is seductively subliminal – put it this way I’ll probably be humming it for the rest of the day.
The accompanying video is a riot of visual messages including magic, pubs, gothic – almost Hammer Horror like – imagery, and the interesting introduction of Maxine Peake, dressed as a rabbit, arm-wrestling with Mr Flanagan on what appears to be Kersal Moor in Salford. There’s a soupçon of Lewis Carroll about the whole affair – both lyrically and visually – i’m sure some clever person will read all sorts of arcane messages into it but to me it just seemed like damned good fun. Which essentially is what good music should be about.
The remixes that come with the single are also equally marvellous. The baroque stylings of “I Monsters” take on the tune with its faux-harpsichord, organ and martial drumming and then strings and something that sounds like it might be a lap steel guitar is very clever indeed – probably comparable to something John Barry (him again) would have put behind the opening titles of a Bond movie. Andy Votel and Jane Weaver (Europium Illuminate) take a different view with the waltz emerging from acoustic guitars, burbling synths, and tinkling bell like sounds. I wasn’t completely sure about some of the patches which seemed a tad visceral in parts (i.e.they are tad akin to an eructation), and maybe Candie is mixed too low – but having said that it’s a fine listen. Anne Shenton (formerly of Add N to X) provides a “Concrete” mix which is the most de-constructed version with the vocals buried under layers of sonorous synth and percussion – it’s also a little short leaving me wanting more.
The release is available in limited 7″ vinyl, but you can be modern and get it from iTunes and all the other digital outlets if you so desire.
The website for this combo is http://armscontroller.com/2010/09/chanteuse/
Highly recommended for lovers of intelligent pop music.