Music Review: Gamoid – Tosspiece Theatre

I’ll always remember where I was when I first laid eyes on Gamoid’s debut album, Placenta and Chips. Camden’s Magic Accordion has a cavernous basement replete with old school alphabetically sorted vinyl in cardboard troughs. I was thumbing through the Gs, hoping to finger Geri Halliwell, whose little heard EP, Bottomless Barrel of Breasts and Tears had failed to cross over but had nevertheless gained good notices in the music press, when this thing honed into view.

It was quite beautiful. A big plate of chips and bloody meat on a chequered table cloth. The track listing was youth bait, Mindscoop, No Smoking Without Poking, Portobello Toad, The Fuck Off Machine – I wanted to hear those songs. I don’t think I’ve ever got a record home so fast. I wasn’t disappointed. It was the most exciting 42 minutes and 9 seconds of my life; a call to tear the sheath from your mannered mind and participate in an orgy of drums, thumping cowbell on glock pistol, gurning guitars and leading man Howell Encry’s magnificent roar. It broke me and put me back together in a new and exciting configuration. My ears weren’t talking to me anymore.

Gamoid’s follow up, The Mental Monster Dance, was extraordinary and absurd; four graffiti covered walls of sound, the interior space filled with irony and topped off with a layer of hushing finger to lips screed. The standout track, Kitty Killed Wifey, put a bomb in my brain, called in the warning to my iPod and then stood the fuck back while my head left my neck in sixty different directions. It was a lyrical masterclass, Gamoid alone being able to carry off lines like, “Puss clawed at her eyes while I eyed her apple pies”. I wanted more but there were only two 21 minute tracks.

Now, at long last, there’s Tosspiece Theatre, the third act in this magnificent musical odyssey. When your favourite band cuts a new record you can’t wait to jump in and get involved but you’re also nervous. What if it gags? Everyone knows that disappointing third album feeling, sometimes known as Be Here Now syndrome, that moment when the curtain’s pulled back and the Wizard of Oz is masturbating.

I needn’t have worried.

TT is an aural enema in a plastic jacket, described in the sleeve notes as “a no-concept album.” Howell Encry explains;

“Our concept was no concept. We’d make a record with no underlying theme, no structure and no real message. It’d be musical bricolage, or not.”

It’s a brilliant piece of innovation, typical of this outfit. Having no no-concept albums to compare it to, I’m flying by the seat of my pants in declaring it to be a radical new front in the war on deadened senses, but I’m prepared to stick my neck out, you need to hear this record.

Track Listing:

  1. I do the jokes
  2. The girl with the exploding head
  3. Excuse you
  4. Touched me
  5. Spackman and Reichmark
  6. Slow hand clap for market forces
  7. Madrid Hymen season ticket holder
  8. Shia LaBeouf
  9. We’ll never move on until there’s an end to all this violence between Facebook and Twitter Communities
  10. Star Trek would know what to do
  11. Degenerate and senseless

There are echoes of that “dirty protest sound”, associated with Placenta and Chips, in the scratchy opener, I do the jokes. Employing Merrell Mung’s wanking guitar to great effect and what sounds like a set of violin strings plucked over shards of glass, it’s a waspish attack on those foolish enough to try and steal the thunder from the designated joker within a group, particularly when their role has been firmly established and there’s a strict understanding that they’re the funny one. “It died in your mouth, that stillborn quip, that witless attempt at trying to be hip; forget your ambitions, I make the decisions, I’ll kick you in the cunny, if you try to be funny.”

There’s a more upbeat edge to The girl with the exploding head, a hilarious riff on the young girl with a life threatening brain aneurism lick. Encry recalls the death of his fifth wife, fifteen years his junior, with a fine sense of irony, in a song that sounds like it was recorded inside Benny Hill’s head. “Hands on her nipples were woeful protection, I thought I could cure her with a guilty erection.”

Excuse you is soulful belching with full orchestral bunting – “you’re a frightful wretch who makes me retch”, while Touched me plays like early Public Image Limited, had they been employed as social workers, “you say he’d watch you in the bath, aged sixteen, but perhaps it was a laugh, okay Justine?”

There’s an unusual mid-album breaker in the form of Spackman and Reichmark, an eleven minute musical vignette about two autistic detectives, “they weren’t up to much, they couldn’t really talk to people.” The album then goes from a canter to a run. Slow hand clap for market forces is a lament for capitalism, with Encry’s vocal evoking Tom Waits with a cold, “I have fifty thousand shares in me and they’ve never been worth less”, while Madrid Hymen season ticket holder recalls the lead singer’s thankless devotion to the Spanish club, sung by a man who knows he’s wasted his life, “Pestokovic could kick a ball but he couldn’t kick heroin and teens.”

There’s understandable hate for Hollywood actor Shia LaBeouf in the song of the same name, “he raped my youth, when he agreed to appear in Indiana Jones”, social networking rivalry is duly explored in We’ll never move on until there’s an end to all this violence between Facebook and Twitter Communities in which Encry calls the problem “a virtual Northern Ireland, only worse”, and Star Trek would know what to do talks about the leading man’s belief in the philosophical and intellectual support that comes from being a fan, “hoisted by my own petard, waiting for advice from Captain Picard…”

The final track, Degenerate and senseless, is an anthem for shit kickers; a glorious indie and chorister mash, which the sleeve notes describe as “a valentine to our stupid fans.” That the band hold them, and I suppose by extension, me, in complete contempt, is simply a reflection of how unorthodox they’re prepared to be in the pursuit of pure art. Why rely on the people who love and cherish your work for vindication? It’s lyrically astute, as ever, “you bought this, you buffoon, to get some course credit, but the course isn’t running and if there’s a set text you ain’t read it.”

I can’t recommend this enough.

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Published in: on November 21, 2010 at 18:55  Leave a Comment  
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