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The Caretaker | We'll All Go Riding On A Rainbow (VVM Test)
While VVM's noise terrorism and uncompromising sonic assaults were once amusing, entertaining and original, even the most hardcore devotee to extreme electronic experimentation must be tiring of it by now, if they're absolutely honest. Likewise, I have serious reservations about comedy in music, as peddled by some of VVM's alter-egos and the likes of Cassette Boy (surely the two should be kept well apart? No exceptions spring to mind). Of course, VVM know all of this, and their brazen persistence in the face of the whole approach becoming tiresome is surely deliberate - if their goal was to achieve popularity and some level of success with the masses, their output from day one would have been different. In which case, the fact that they're still releasing similar material five years or so down the line qualifies them as some kind of perverse success story, I guess.
All of that considered, The Caretaker remains their only artistically (musically) valid act - maybe by accident, mind. On this, the third Caretaker longplayer - and they are long, have no doubt - the same path is pursued, and is as effective and disturbing as ever without really taking us to previously uncharted territory. The Caretaker's first album was instantly reminiscent of the haunted ballroom scene in 'The Shining', and subsequent albums have moved gradually away from that while simultaneously creating darker, more sinister soundscapes. The audio content herein is supposedly derived from source material dating back to the 1920s and '30s, and places the listener at the end of a disused seaside pier, with the soundtrack a distant echo of times past. At once, beneath the crackles and feedback the music here is eerie, affecting, atmospheric, and either beautiful or depressing, depending on one's state of mind. The depth is sometimes breathtaking, and the overall effect is totally all-consuming. Unique, and highly recommended, if you're up to it.

Andy Slocombe
March-April 2004