“I shall leave you now, and two loudspeakers will take my place” announced conductor Leopold Stokowski, introducing his first performance of electronic tape music in October 1952. Or so the press release for the new Japanese War Effort album tells me, and why would it lie?
The Japanese War Effort is Martin Moog, a one man ambient pop band based in Edinburgh, who is also one half of Conquering Animals Sound. He is also rather tall. That should kill any rumours that I only listen to short, noisy Glaswegians then, shouldn’t it?
Previous Japanese War Effort releases have been a little but hit and miss for me, to be honest, but happily Loudspeakers… fixes pretty much everything that niggled at me in some of the earlier songs. Normally pretty prolific, this album took a while to make and it shows. There’s a greater focus to the songs for a start and the songs sound tighter.
Usually if I’m talking about an album and say there’s parts of it that I’ve never heard in a song before I’m either exaggerating, lying or haven’t been listening to enough stuff, but I can honestly say that on Ceremony Pt.2 there’s something I’ve never heard in song before – a sample of Ian Crocker commentating on Ross Tokely’s sending off in the SPL game against Falkirk that saw Inverness relegated last season. There’s a few more football references in there too, just like there was on previous album Snowbird – Lanark touches upon the state of the Scottish national team, while Eilvese, Nov. 10 takes it’s name from the place and date that German goalkeeper Robert Enke committed suicide.
The good parts of the older material remains, while some of the meandering and rough edges that irritated have been reigned in. There’s often a lot going on in any one song, but with enough restrain and careful planning that the songs never feel busy, or like they’ve had extra layers thrown at them just for fun.
All in Loudspeakers… is a much more accomplished piece of work than it’s predecessors, while retaining all of the originality, complexities and distinctiveness that they showed. It’s an album that’s far removed from my comfort zone compared to most that I review here, but it’s a very welcome push to listen to something else, and a thoroughly enjoyable one at that.
If you want a bit of a taster of The Japanese War Effort there’s loads around to sample. A session for Song, By Toad has a couple of older songs as well as Lanark from this album, and there’s a couple EPs available for free on Last.fm too.
I Will Leave You Now, And Two Loudspeakers Will Take My Place is released by Scozia Records on March 8th.
The Japanese War Effort – MySpace