Review Archive

The John Langan Band and ‘Bones of Contention’.

(March 14, 2013)

When the line drawing on the cover is three naked musicians with their instruments, followed by more illustrations of the naked trio spread across the cover notes, that has to tell you something about the John Langan Bandband. Not sure what that might be but if it’s designed to convey idiosyncratic exhibitionism, quirky extravagance or bizarre eccentricity, the illustrations serve their purpose. We’re talking about The John Langan Band and their new album ‘Bones of Contention’.

Imagery aside, this is a lavish chunk of folk that sits firmly under the title of ‘different’. From the driving gypsy-dance inspired pulse of ‘Aquaplane’ to the unrestrained jazz-edged, folk-funk of ‘Pumpkin Pie’ there’s nothing predictable about this album. Taking a step towards the edge of weird is the instrumental ‘Midgets on Acid’, which has a distinct free-form, experimental feel from wildly pumping bass to dissonant fiddle. By contrast there’s ‘Winter Song’ an almost-traditional ballad and the gentle (yes, really) fiddle-led instrumental ‘Piano Miniature’, then off we go again with unbridled drive as ‘Streets of Glasgow’ explores a myriad of strange characters.

Following a rather disturbing song called ‘Demons’ that evokes whirling Eastern European essence complete with a thoroughly thrashed tambourine, there’s the appropriately titled ‘D-Mented Set’. This three-piece opens with a jumping quasi-bluegrass, percussive fiddle tune ‘Charlie’s Rant’, moves into the distinctly hard to listen to cacophony of ‘Tunstall’s Rant’ and finally the infinitely more listenable strings of ‘Riley’s Rant’.

Avant garde folk fusion? Virtuoso performance? Uncontrolled profligacy? Not sure, possibly all three. Although I am sure of one thing, hear this album once and it will not be ignored. Not for all but a surefire certainty for some.

The John Langan Band is John Langan (vocals, guitar) Dave Tunstall (double bass, backing vocals) and Alastair Caplan (fiddle, backing vocals).

Reviewer: Dan Holland

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