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Gorky's Zygotic Mynci | Sleep/Holiday (Sanctuary)
Over ten years and nine albums into their career, it's somewhat reassuring that Gorky's Zygotic Mynci have stood so stoically outside the ring of fame and fashion. From psychedelic garage-prog to medieval folk-rock to summery pastoral pop, the band certainly haven't been playing ball with the stylistic vagaries of the contemporary music industry, causing them to be dropped by almost as many labels as The Fall.
But whilst such stubborn independence is inspiring, you have to wonder if some of the band's past label bosses were actually being commercially cruel, to be creatively kind. In essence, at least two-thirds of this new long-player is interchangeable and indistinguishable from the last three Gorky's albums. Which means numerous melancholy-drenched laments to lost summer days (Single To Fairwater certainly wouldn't have been out of place on 2001's 'How I Long To Feel That Summer In My Heart'), nuzzle up to jaunty country-pop ramblers (the delightful Eyes Of Green, Green, Green would have sat soundly on 2001's mini-album 'The Blues Trees'), before stomping along in a glam-rockabilly fashion (Mow The Lawn is a direct, though less clumsy, descendant of Poodle Rockin' from 1999's 'Spanish Dance Troupe').
It becomes increasingly apparent that the vacuum left by multi-instrumentalist mischief-maker John Lawrence (who quit the group before the completion of 'Spanish Dance Troupe') is in danger of becoming a creative leak that the group's remaining singer-songwriters - Euros Childs and Richard James - are struggling to plug. But giving credit where it's due, the twosome do admirably drag a few envelope-pushing ideas out of the bag for the album's adorable closing song sequence. Thus James's Only Takes A Night - with its dextrous finger picked acoustic guitars and ebullient violins from Megan Childs - turns out to be a sincere and honourably arranged homage to Jim O'Rourke's 'Bad Timing' and 'Eureka' LP's (as well as being a friendly nod to recent US touring partner M Ward). Euros Childs also turns in some serenely wonderful moments during the album's dying moments, giving us a convincing take on the drowsy drone-pop of early-Spiritualized on the opulent Pretty As A Bee and plucking a lost file from the Tindersticks' archives on the desolate piano ballad Red Rocks, which closes proceedings with the promise of some much-needed sonic re-tooling.
So yet another good-but-not-spectacular Gorky's album that fails to match the magic of early touchstone classics like 1995's 'Bwyd Time' and 1997's 'Barafundle,' but nevertheless holds itself up as a sturdy set of lovingly crafted songs that should keep ever-loyal fans warm as this year's summertime sizzle slides into inevitable autumnal drizzle.
CWAS #13 - Autumn 2003