As the frontman of such acts as Nation of Ulysses, The Make-Up, Weird War, and more, Ian Svenonius has never shied away from melding high concept with the vitriolic sounds he favors. This predilection is on display on the latest full-length from his current project, Escape-ism. Dubbing the platter The Lost Record, Svenious imagines the album as an overlooked gem lost to the dustbins almost immediately upon its release. (He details this notion on the opening title track.)
Whether history will prove Svenonius right remains to seen, but Merge’s distribution and his own reputation may preclude such obscurity. But it’s not hard to imagine the strange sparse sounds contained on the record as an obscure private press gathering dust at a flea market. Much of the album occupies the middle ground between, say, Gang of Four and a Joe Meek production, sinewy guitar lines snaking around minimalist keyboard whines and thrift store drum machine beats. The album’s best moments come when Svenonious transcends the music’s limitations, delivering wry observations (“Rome Wasn’t Burnt in a Day”), barbed promises (“(I’m Gonna) Bite the Hand That Feeds”)‚ or astrologicial ponderances (“What Sign (Was Frankenstein)”). The simplistic backing does seem to hold the singer back at times, though, and you’re left wanting a little more upon which to hang your hat. But then again you might also fall in love with this album if you happened to pull it from the dollar bin some 20 years from now.