Late Of The Pier – Fantasy Black Channel 2008 - Parlophon
Castle Donington’s (England) long lost Late Of The Pier are more of a pain to describe than Fixers, but even better.
Fantasy Black Channel is a cocktail of early 2000’s Indie, Punk, Psychedelic, Funk, Synth pop with every distortion technique in the book used on max and more than a hint of sarcastic black humour and pure weirdness. You only have to check out ‘About’ on their abandoned Facebook page to see how cocky these guys were. In influences they put “bake me a cake as fast as you can (and send us pictures)”. I wonder how many fans did….
It’s no wonder the band crumpled under the pressure for a second album and fell apart; it would have been incredibly hard to make a second album as good, never mind better than the debut. They may as well have created their own genre of music.
It starts off sounding drunk as thick distorted keyboard slowly slurs into ‘Broken’ which brings Indie crooning guitars and bare honest vocals to the mix. This glitches into single ‘Space & The Wood’ with its threatening pounding fuzz synth and drums that turns into indie synth pop brilliant for the chorus; with vocals low and searching calmly stating “Suicides always been in my blood”. The song, much like the rest of the album, is filled with frantic time changes. Also a single ‘The Bears Are Coming’ follows continuing this deep distortion but contains this bizarre filtering, like vinyl being scratched crossed with a balloon being scratched. The time change here sends us on a brief psychedelic trip with crowed vocals and a chaotic end. ‘Random Firl’ welcomes back the indie guitar joined by percussion and questioning glittering keyboard, naturally the distortion is still high. His vocals croon sweetly over a heartbeat drum; it’s almost sweet and innocent.
‘Heartbeat’ is the closest to a normal Indie song as we get on here; it’s heavier on the drums and guitar, you could almost say a dance track with guitars. It’s taken the sound of the time, the time of Franz Ferdinand, Artic Monkeys and Lilly Allen being the charts but twists and distorts it into something utterly strange, often psychedelic and their own. ‘White Snake’ and ‘VW’ are prime examples of their truly unique cocktail of styles; they include enough time changes to include them all, I’d be here all day listing the sounds and moods created on these two tracks alone, let’s just say one song ends with the line “Cabbage. Can you smell snacks?” ‘There is a fine line between madness and genius’ drifts into my head when hearing these songs. ‘Focker’ is a trippy, happier and yet darker ‘Space & the Woods’ and yet contains more structure and sanity than the previous tracks.
‘The Enemy Are The Future’ opens timidly only to explode boldly into one of the catchiest funk hooks with military drums and a rather desperate questioning vocals. It’s a more straightforward song, well Late Of The Piers idea of straightforward is as straight as an abused ‘bendy’ ruler. After all, it does drift from style to style, including bongo and synth pop segments only to suddenly stop. While ‘Mad Dogs and Englishmen’ is minimalistic with its bold vocals, sharp Indie guitar and fast beat. ‘Bathroom Gurgle’ returns to the same template as ‘Space & the Woods’ and ‘The Bear Are Coming’, it is what they do best after all. It’s fuzzed, simple beat and unusual raw vocals with sparkling keyboard to contrast. It smoothly switches between spaced out trips to pure indie pop brilliance.