FITTED – First Fits

FITTED is a spontaneously-established quartet of Graham Lewis and Matthew Simms from the current Wire line-up, Minutemen’s Mike Watt and Bob Lee from Fearless Leader. The group came together during the LA date at The Echo on Wire’s DRILL 2017 festival tour, rehearsed just once and then took to the stage for a blistering performance loosely based on Dome’s ‘Jasz’, which, after several iterations in the studio, emerges on the group’s debut album as the biographical ‘The Legend Of Lydmar Lucia’.

That track acts as a logical centrepoint to a collection of six tracks that operate on a unique pathway between spacey, acid-fried grooves, the upstart urgency of punk and art-rock. ‘The Legend Of Lydmar Lucia’ finds Lewis intoning a diaristic spoken-word recollection of a particularly vivid art happening at Santa Lucia’s Lydmar Gallery, his delivery carrying the kind of oblique, unfathomable wordplay that is highly familiar from his occasional lead vocals with Wire. The unfamiliar aspect of this track is the swirling, turgid, many-layered bed of sound upon which his vocal rests; murky, impenetrable, thrilling and restless, the sonic stew created by the four musician’s is a breathtakingly complex listen, and a perfect foil for Lewis’s intonation.

Something similar happens on the ultimately incendiary and boisterous opening track, ‘Plug In The Jug’, with lead vocals from Mike Watt. ‘Plug In The Jug’ starts out in tentative, atmospheric territory, sound washing in and out but building, building, building toward something initially unclear but finally coalescing into a groove somewhere between The Doors at their most focussed and Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley at his Krautrocking, cyclical drumming best.

Elsewhere, ‘The Chunk That Got Chewed’ is a sprawling, beautiful mess of a track with Watt sounding a lot like Pere Ubu’s David Thomas, while closing track ‘The First Fit’ is a mesmerisingly deep piece led by an especially emotional Lewis augmented by wandering, languid jazz rock fluidity buried under treacly reverb.

It’s not clear yet whether FITTED is a one-off project or the start of something that the group will return to whenever schedules allow. What’s immediately clear from the symbiosis of these four talented minds on the six tracks here is that their capacity to produce interesting, engaging, surprising music is probably limitless.

First Fits by FITTED is released November 8 2019 by ORG Music.

Catref: ORGM-2147
Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2019 Documentary Evidence

Joséphine Michel & Mika Vainio – The Heat Equation

An equation requires both sides of an expression, no matter how complex the operations, to be precisely matched. It is what gives mathematics, and by extension, science, its essential logicality and precision. It is the quintessence of balance and predictability, allowing clarity and certainty even in the most chaotic and unpredictable of scenarios.

On face value, it might be hard to see what it is about French photographer Joséphine Michel’s subdued imagery and the sounds of the sorely-missed Icelandic avant garde electronic musician Mika Vainio that gives The Heat Equation that necessary sense of balance. The pair were collaborators (Halfway To White, 2015) and had discussed another symbiotic project in 2017 just prior to Vainio’s untimely death. The Heat Equation is not necessarily that project, but it could have been, taking the form of a book and accompanying CD and featuring an essay on music by Jeremy Millar.

Michel’s earnest photography, presented in harsh monochrome hues, concerns itself principally with nature and science. We see images of birds flying above a shore so dark that it looks like the interior seams of a coal mine, plaintive shots of solitary figures against the backdrop of harsh, barren terrain, and other, less easy to determine things: the amorphous aftereffects of moving lights, looking for all the world like live cultures writhing under a microscope. These photographs exist without explanation, with no narrative, no timeline, just the barest of footnotes from their curator. In a world where we are obsessed with geotagging out every move and using locational data as a means of expressing our passage through life (the inference being that if you didn’t put it on Instagram, it didn’t happen), such absence is initially hard to understand, before taking on a comforting ambiguity.

Vainio’s absence is, perhaps, harder to make sense of. Since his formative years with Panasonic / Pan Sonic, Vainio had operated at the vanguard of a form of electronic music that relied on subtle impulse and an almost heavy metal approach to sound design. Arriving at a time when the syncopated rhythms of dance music had been dissected and shattered into a sound field of seemingly randomised pulses, glitches and white noise, Pan Sonic dealt in a coldness that was less about their Finnish roots and more about the starkness of their electronic noise.

The hour-long CD hidden in The Heat Equation’s luxuriant art book exterior is audio evidence of Vainio’s performance at Ramsgate’s Contra Pop Festival in August 2016. In part, the music is resolutely familiar as a Vainio suite in its palette of sources – the glitches, the nagging bass drones, the snatches of found sound and muted overheard voices. These vignettes were intended for Vainio’s next release for the venerable Touch label, but were stalled and considered entirely lost following his death in April 2017. Whether they were completed pieces or simply a document of Vainio working on new ideas is, like Michel’s photographs, devoid of specific explanation.

What emerges, strangely, is a not a coldness per se, nor a warmth – after all, it would be hard to ever conceive of Mika Vainio ever producing music that gave you a fuzzy feeling of contentment and security. Sure, there are moments where the only melodic input comes from carefully-controlled white noise, existing in a no man’s land of jarring distortion and grainy texture and beats that are merely beats because they provide a vague sense of forward momentum and order, but there are also moments of ambience and a less frantic approach to his essential glitchiness. Many of the pieces progress on a strangely delicate path, one segment thirty-six minutes in sounding like a haunting take on The Nutcracker wherein familiar melodic gestures are fractalized into razor sharp splinters.

It would be easy to regard The Heat Equation as an epitaph, a eulogy or a full stop. Instead it acts as a multi-disciplinary project that resides in an artistic hinterland where music and imagery both complement and rally against one another. The essential ingredient of an equation is the equals sign that balances either side; in the case of The Heat Equation, that sign is a haunting postcard of Vainio shot by Michel, the only true collaborative moment in a project created across the distance of life and absent friends.

The Heat Equation by Joséphine Michel and Mika Vainio is released November 1 2019 by Touch.

Catref: codex2
Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2019 Documentary Evidence

Piney Gir – You Are Here

The choice of a title for a record can materially influence how you expect it to sound. In the case of the new LP from Piney Gir, the working title was It’s Been A Shit Year For Everyone. Had she stuck with that, the ten pop songs here would have sounded brooding and sullen, sloping their way through the album with a world-weary miserablism and mopey outlook. Fortunately, Piney pivoted and opted for the much more ambiguous You Are Here, its cover finding her draped in white, against a white background, holding a white guitar: it seems to say, ‘Yep, you’re here, it ain’t great but you can at least make something good out of it – if you want to.’

The album was trailed by the fine single ‘Great Pretender’, carrying a dreamy, vaguely surreal popness thanks to its inspiration coming from a weird party at Rick Rubin’s Hollywood pad. A similarly wonky obliqueness can be heard across You Are Here, it’s songs being easy on the ear but hard on the mind if you listen closely enough. Here we find Piney playing with styles ranging from the gentle balladry of ‘Variety Show’ (a duet with Sweet Baboo) to the spiky tenderness of ‘Puppy Love’, via the Fifties slow motion rock ‘n’ roll embrace of the standout ‘Peanut Butter Malt Shop Heartthrob’ – replete with finger clicks and saxophone beamed in from Vince Fontaine’s National Bandstand in Grease – and concluding with the impassioned, gauzy exotica of final track ‘Evensong’.

Piney’s voice has always had the capacity to have a cutesy sweetness, a bubblegum charm, which is why it’s hard to find her chewing over themes of missing out and being unlucky in love on the buzzing ‘Careaway’ or the careworn, embittered ‘Admiral Fleets’ that opens the record. The alien, unresolved tonalities of Bowie’s Berlin trilogy and the languid, louche detachment of vintage Roxy Music provide the textural fabric of these pieces, lacing many of the songs here with an uncertainty that makes them less pop than they first seem.

The album’s most towering moment arrives in the ‘We’ll Always Have Paris’. Here we find Piney taking a wistful, regretful look back through a tragic love story, its diaristic lyrics offering an insight into a relationship that suggests its individuals were doomed from the very start, the memory of Paris the only bright spot in an ill-suited pairing full of opposite viewpoints and never quite arriving at the same point on a map.

We have become accustomed to Piney Gir’s restless stylistic eclecticism, and You Are Here clings to that ‘anything goes’ ethos faithfully. Amid the album’s rich, broadminded musical accompaniment it is Piney’s plaintive, delicate, fragile voice that steals the show, drawing you in time after time and once again highlighting her idiosyncratic, honed form of evocative and often heart-wrenching storytelling.

You Are Here by Piney Gir is released November 1 2019 by STRS Records

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2019 Documentary Evidence

Minimal Compact – Creation Is Perfect

Not exactly a Best Of Minimal Compact album in the truest sense of the word, Creation Is Perfect contains seven tracks from the catalogue of this enduring post-punk quintet, each one updated and re-recorded with shiny new production nous from Wire’s Colin Newman.

Between their formation in in Amsterdam in 1980 and their cessation of activities in 1988, Minimal Compact released five albums and a live document, their approach to what issued forth from punk’s messy entrails being highly individualist, fusing the solid rhythm section of bassist / vocalist Malka Spigel and drummer Max Franken with Middle Eastern melodies and the purring vocal of Samy Birnbach. Augmented by Berry Sakharof and Rami Fortis’s guitars and electronics, Minimal Compact was a stylistic force to be reckoned with, even among an era that produced far more important groups than punk ever could.

Colin Newman is no stranger to Minimal Compact. He produced their 1985 commercially successful album Raging Souls, which yielded two of the songs included here, the emphatic and insistent title track of their third album and the hypnotic and wistful ‘My Will’. He’s also toured as a jobbing member of the group, and his marriage to Malka Spigel has also yielded many collaborations between two like-minded creatives, including the recently-reactived Immersion and the group Githead, which also included Max Franken on drums.

The genesis behind Creation Is Perfect is not dissimilar to the thought process behind Wire’s IBTABA, namely that their recorded output lacked the same sort of visceral impact as their live shows. Less about updating the back catalogue pieces for today’s ear, this album is about capturing that live energy, beginning with the urgent, gleeful and spiky punk-funk of ‘Statik Dancing’ and carrying on through other stellar moments like the chiming guitars and menacing motorik foundations of ‘Nada’. The result is an evenness, a precisely-executed delivery encased within rich, layered studio smoothness but also a certain rawness as the five musicians collide and overlap along paths which are uniquely their own.

The collection concludes with a new track,’Holy Roller’. Beginning with fairground melodies, the track characteristically progresses along a grubby, low-slung bassline offset by layers of whining synths, shimmering melodies and an emphatic, detached vocal. Slow-building and dramatic, the track is the summation of everything that Minimal Compact ever set out to achieve, its skeletal, rattling guitar interplay sounding as beautifully nihilistic as it did at the start of the 1980s.

Creation Is Perfect by Minimal Compact is released October 25 2019 by Minimal Compact.

Catref: mc01
Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2019 Documentary Evidence

Yeasayer (Clash feature, 2019)

Yeasayer‘s fifth album, Erotic Reruns, was released today via their own Yeasayer Records. The LP saw the trio of Chris Keating, Ira Wolf Tuton and Anand Wilder returning to the live compositional style of their earliest releases, taking their inspiration from 70s MOR, personal relationships and the prevailing US political environment.

To coincide with the release, I spoke to the band’s Anand Wilder for Clash about the genesis of the album, leaving the comfort blanket of record labels behind and the necessary tensions within this enduring New York group.

Read the Clash interview here.

Buy Erotic Reruns from Yeasayer’s website.

(c) 2019 Mat Smith / Documentary Evidence for Clash.

Teho Teardo – Grief Is The Thing With Feathers (Specula album, 2019)

Blixa Bargeld and Balanescu Quartet collaborator Teho Teardo has charted a singular course through electronic, classical and industrial music since he first emerged with a self-released cassette album in 1985. His approach to works for strings and sound design can be linked back to his early days as an Italian punk, his music containing a visceral weight coupled with a blunt, almost antagonistic command of the loud-quiet-loud dynamic.

His latest work is arguably the most complete realisation of that vision. Inspired by Max Porter’s book Grief Is The Thing With Feathers and used in its subsequent stage adaptation by Enda Walsh, the eight pieces here chart the narrative of a crow and his family as he struggles to cope following the loss of his partner and the need to raise his two chicks by himself.

Here we find Teardo offering up recurring passages of staccato cello that carry the sonic attack and challenge of heavy metal guitars, blended with jangly guitars, dramatic percussion and intense violin, best exemplified by standout moments like ‘London Offered Us Possible Mothers’. Elsewhere, the interplay between processed wind instruments and modular synths on ‘Hop Sniff And Tackle’ creates a nauseating, ominous tension wherein a serene string section toward the end is just about the only relief from a darkness as intense as a crow’s feathers.

Grief Is The Thing With Feathers by Teho Teardo was released in March 2019 by Specula.

Words: Mat Smith

(c) 2019 Mat Smith / Documentary Evidence

Andy Bell – Torsten In Queereteria : Redux

Since 10 April at Above The Stag in London’s Vauxhall, Erasure frontman Andy Bell has been reprising his role as Torsten, a half-English, half-Norwegian semi-immortal polysexual born way back in 1905.

Entitled Queereteria TV, the third instalment of Barney Ashton-Bullock’s series places Torsten’s recollections inside a nightmarish vision of a post-apocalyptic Britain, where a trio of misfits – Lady Domina Bizarre (Matthew Baldwin), Rupert (veteran actor Peter Straker) and Daniel (Ashton-Bullock) – seek to recreate the halcyon days of the Queereteria sex club they and Torsten frequented before Lady Domina inadvertently caused Armageddon after a fumbled sexual liaison with the monarch.

What emerges instead is a TV station dominated by the very worst, lowest possible common denominator of programming that Britons have no choice but to watch; so much so that ‘detector execution vans’ patrol the streets to ensure strict compliance with the fascistic dictat that the channel’s crude and debased content must be watched. “It’s basically a filthy comedy,” says Andy Bell, however unlikely that might sound.

Unlikely it may sound, but a filthy comedy – perhaps the filthiest your most exuberant imagination could muster – it most certainly is. Queereteria TV is a raucous, ribald excursion of a musical that is most definitely not for the faint hearted or easily offended. It can frequently leave you laughing uproariously or sitting with your mouth agape with shock at the things you’ve seen or heard. And yet through it all is the strangely morbid tale of our hero Torsten, kept sedated in a bell jar for Lady Domina’s amusement, Bell’s embodiment of this sad, broken soul acts as a counterweight to Baldwin’s wonderful portrayal of Domina as the worst imaginable panto dame.

Bell first performed as Torsten in 2014 at Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival. For those used to seeing his performances with synthpop royalty Erasure, Torsten The Bareback Saint may have come as something of a shock. A one-man show written by Ashton-Bullock with music composed and performed by multi-instrumentalist Chris Frost, the show found the wretched Torsten surveying his long life, many lovers and frequent disappointments in the kind of brutally honest, and often hilariously colourful detail that was a world away from Bell’s dayjob operating within the written and unwritten parameters of pop music.

Torsten reappeared in The Beautiful Libertine at Above The Stag in London two years later. Not exactly a sequel in the traditional sense, the second instalment in what Ashton-Bullock describes as “postcards from the hotspots of memory” dug into different moments in the life of the Torsten character, revealing more detail about his life, yet more outlandish and sad episodes, but in anything but a straightforward linear narrative.

Bell settled into the character again for The Beautiful Libertine as if it was a second skin, surely meaning that this third instalment should be a breeze. “To be honest, even though he’s my character, he’s a stranger to me,” he confesses. “I can’t quite put my finger on him really.”

“I don’t think any of us can,” concurs Ashton-Bullock. “For me there’s two ways of looking at drama – there’s the approach where you have a beginning, middle and end and a forced narrative, and where you try and make everything fit that; or you acknowledge that in our lives we don’t really know what the beginning, middle and end are. If you write like that, eventually a life and a story assert themselves. Our own memory of our own lives is incomplete – we remember fragments and have selective memories and all of that. So I think with Torsten being older than any of us, his memories are even more jumbled, and everything is fragmented.”

“He’s 114 years old, even though he looks a lot younger,” adds Bell. “In this new show his bones get brittle, he’s feeling older inside, and his memory’s going a little bit. He’s a bit similar to myself, really!”

Though he’s being sarcastic, if Bell can relate to the character on some level, in part that’s because Torsten was written by Ashton-Bullock specifically with Andy Bell in mind. “I always felt as though I knew Andy, although I hadn’t met him, because I just felt that we were very similar,” he says. “The thing that Andy, Chris Frost and I all have in common is we’re very reclusive introverts, and we often don’t get the chance in life to be the best we can be.”

“We’re wallflower people,” nods Bell in agreement. “We don’t necessarily want to go and join in. It’s not our style. Barney and I have become very good, very close friends because we’re both so similar.”

“People put you in boxes and we get talked over all the time,” continues Ashton-Bullock with a sigh. “But I really think we have an energy between us which is completely understated, and that energy means we can create things that are of value to people. Without taking anything away from Andy’s success in Erasure, I really felt like there was a voice trapped within the style of synthpop – and I’m saying that as a fan. I wanted him to be freed from the regular beat and I wanted his voice to soar. When I heard him on Peter Hammill’s The Fall Of The House Of Usher from 1991, I knew I would want to work with him to do just that.”

The music written by Chris Frost for Ashton-Bullock’s vivid words also serves to free Bell up from those strictures, their distinctively flexible presentations being the outcome of a collision between Frost’s jazz / classical background and Ashton-Bullock’s schooling in the likes of Cabaret Voltaire and Fad Gadget. The net effect of that is music that can occasionally be a bit New Romantic, a bit futurist, deeply theatrical, and more than often a bit uncomfortable.

One way in which Bell can get to grips with the anguish of Torsten’s life is to relate it to his own experiences from his long-term relationship with the late Paul Hickey, whose memoir Sometimes vividly detailed his life with the singer. “We had an open relationship,” recalls Bell. “I mean, I’m quite a romantic, and when Erasure were really, really successful it felt like I did have someone like in every port who I’d see while we were touring the world. I liked to make attachments, but I wasn’t allowed to fall in love. That was Paul’s stipulation, which I realise now was a bit damaging. Torsten is in a similar situation, because he outlives all of his amours and paramours.”

“It’s very similar to how I’ve written drama through the years,” explains Ashton-Bullock, whose Daniel character is a married man that Torsten has an affair with. “If I’ve got somebody’s voice in mind when I’m writing it really helps me. There are lots of similarities between Andy and I – weird things like we both worked in Debenhams when we were young and we both had love affairs in Weston-super-Mare when we were in our late teens. I think that’s why we’re both very, very emotionally committed to the Torsten project and seeing where that story will lead.”

Though it wasn’t necessarily evident to audiences when it opened in Edinburgh, Barney Ashton-Bullock had always conceived that Torsten The Bareback Saint would be the first part of a trilogy. Arriving at the latest instalment, it’s become apparent to everyone involved in the series that there are more stories left to tell. “We’re already thinking, ‘Right, what’s going to be the next thing?’” says Bell. “In the latest show they’ve introduced a younger Torsten played by Tom Mann for these kind of flashback scenes while I’m singing off to the side. It’s like me looking back at a reflection of myself in the show.”

Bell turns 55 during the show’s run. “I’m just waiting to get that time when you get written out because you’re too old,” he laughs. “I can imagine when it gets sent to Netflix or and they suddenly say they’re going to get Ryan Gosling to play Torsten, but I can have a bit part in the background playing a tramp on the street.”

“As long as there’s something to say, and that were all alive and available, I wouldn’t kill him off,” says Ashton-Bullock. ”I do think I know where the character can go next and on his timeline. That said, we’ve got the luxury of time. We’ve all got other jobs. I can wait for inspiration to strike, rather than feeling like I’ve got a deadline approaching. I think there are still things to say and I also feel like we’re living in a world where certain ideas desperately need to be shared. These are very weird times, very estranging at times. Sometime’s it’s a struggle for everyday people to wake up and be happy because the times are so odd.”

Though Ashton-Bullock wrote Torsten specifically for Andy Bell, he’s clear that other things went into his genesis from his own life experiences. “I think we’re all products of the culture that we live in and our interests,” he says. “My influences from a very early age were Harold Pinter, Derek Jarman, Steven Berkoff, and the ability that they had in their writing to pattern the world and to be viscerally honest about things. I really admired that in all of them. Also, being an outsider in a very small seaside town growing up, having my parents split up when I was four, having to fend for myself and all the sort of nightmare scenarios you can dream for yourself in all of that.” All of this manifests itself in Torsten never seeming to find his true place in the world until he found the forgiving environs of the Queereteria club.

If this were a novel, parts of it could be labelled a classic roman à clef, a story inevitably full of Ashton-Bullock’s own life encounters and recollections, only he really admits to never been drawn to books – only poetry. “The language in books wasn’t concise enough for me,” he admits. “It was like I was reading a book to get a kind of hit, but I was just never getting it. I’ve read all my life poetry, right from when I first bought my collected works of W. H. Auden. I was with my grandmother in the Pump Room in Bath when I bought it on a family weekend and she said to me disapprovingly ‘Hmmm, you do know he was a homosexual?’ From early on I just thought that poetry was the most immediate and violent expression of language.”

Transitioning from poetry to the complex, intensely full flow of words that Ashton-Bullock has written for the Torsten series wasn’t remotely a difficult one. “I think the rhythmic thing is something I’m so in tune with,” he says. “The strictures of contemporary poetry are very much that you’re considered a failure if you’re dealing in rhymes, whereas in lyrics we can rhyme sometimes. They don’t have to be full-on rhymes, they can be oblique ones or open verse rhymes or whatever, but I find that very liberating. Lyrics are a way of actually making the poetic sensibility accessible.”

One aspect of Torsten’s character that remains a mystery, even to Andy Bell, is his Norwegian heritage. That again came from Ashton-Bullock’s past. “There was a stage of my life where I definitely felt like I’d been born into the wrong, not body, but into the wrong country,” he reveals. “I remember feeling extremely Norwegian while I was growing up for some reason, even though I have no ancestry in Norway, I’d never been there, or anything. I can’t even describe it. I’m just extremely happy when I’m there. It’s a very strong connection, and so Torsten is a half-Norwegian, half-English character, born of a Norwegian merchant seamen, and a mother that lived in Rotherhithe where the boats from Scandinavia came in, in 1905.”

The songs for the new album, some of which appear in Queereteria TV in either abridged form, in full, as solo pieces for Bell or the entire ensemble, are among the most varied and captivating pieces that Chris Frost and Ashton-Bullock have yet composed together. Recorded in Autumn last year when the last Erasure tour had finished, these songs find Bell fully sloughing off any inhibitions he might have had about once again casting aside his pop credentials for this much more theatrical endeavour. Key to his sensational delivery of these songs is an appreciation of Torsten’s fundamental character. “The thing is not to be scared,” says Bell. “It doesn’t matter where your voice goes, or if it breaks. You kind of try to make everything perfect, but you can’t. You’re dealing with this character, this somewhat broken person, so you can’t do that – you have to let it go where it goes.”

One of the most memorable moments in Queereteria TV is the song ‘We Hadn’t Slept For Twenty Years’, delivered by the whole cast but led by a stunning duet between Torsten and Daniel, the voices of Andy Bell and Barney Ashton-Bullock weaving in and out of one another in tender, perfect harmony. This is the first time that Ashton-Bullock’s character has appeared in the series, though his role was trailed in the mournful song ‘Photos Of Daniel’ from the second part of the series.

The on-stage chemistry between the show’s writer and its central character seems to underline that friendship that’s been built between Bell and Ashton-Bullock, while the flashback dance scenes between Tom Mann’s young Torsten and William Spencer’s young Daniel (also choreographed by Spencer) are among the most evocative moments in the show.

The other highlights come when you are subjected to Baldwin’s Lady Domina haughtily quoting Margaret Thatcher or hilariously attempting to make a traybake using whatever detritus might be lying around as she presents a cookery show at short notice. “Lady Domina is really like a critique of the most awful kind of narcissism that any of us that work on the fringes of showbusiness have to endure, just pushed right to the extreme,” explains Ashton-Bullock. “She was an ex-lover of Torsten, a sort of onetime seaside special star, or a very bad cabaret artist.” There are moments throughout Queereteria TV where Baldwin’s ludicrous portrayal of Domina act as brutal moments of absurd levity around which some of the more austere songs are woven, and those unexpected juxtapositions provide some of the keys to Queereteria TV’s captivating presentation.

Becoming Torsten has undoubtedly had a huge impact on Andy Bell and his own approach to songwriting. He has spoken to me twice before about wanting to move in more of a theatrical direction, and you can trace that interest right back to his portrayal of Montresor in The Fall Of The House Of Usher, through Erasure’s 1992 Phantasmagorical Entertainment tour, that fateful appearance at Edinburgh’s Fringe and finally arriving at the profoundly stirring songs written for Erasure’s 2017 opus ‘World Be Gone’.

On the new album and in his delivery during the show, his performance reveals an artist whose metamorphosis is essentially complete; from the soaring ‘A Hundred Years Plus Today’ that opens the collection of songs, to the austere poetry of ‘Lowland Lowriders’, to the bawdy ‘Cabaret Awayday’ to the nod to Brecht / Weill on ‘If We Want To Drink A Little’ (with Hazel O’Connor) here we find Andy Bell utterly – and willingly – transformed, in no small part thanks to Barney Ashton-Bullock’s inventive lyrics and Chris Frost’s endlessly adaptable playing.

Queereteria TV completes its run at Above The Stag on 28 April at Above The Stag. Tickets are available at abovethestag.com. The album ‘Andy Bell Is Torsten In Queereteria’ is out now on Strike Force Entertainment via Cherry Red. A shorter version of this piece first appeared on the Clash website on 2 April

(c) 2019 Mat Smith / Documentary Evidence & Clash