Released 8th December 2007. Hand printed bag sleeves.
With the kind of outlook and vocabulary not befitting of most young upstarts, Safetyword are an intriguing curiosity. A handful of releases behind them already, the four-piece – who lurch from prog to jazz to folk to alt-pop with the blink of an eye – are like an explosion of nervous energy, with the only constant being the constantly changing time signatures they deploy. In short, you could set a house full of watches by them.
It’s enough to bring to mind the freewheelin’ Gabriel faves Random Hold, while in their boundary-pushing arsenal is the synapse-scorching inventiveness which carries the sweet odour of peak period King Crimson, shot through with a digital-age self-awareness and originality. Imagine Robert Fripp being karate chopped by Hot Club de Paris, with Captain Beefheart mopping up the ensuing blood, sweat, tears and spittle.
Their new single (VAN 149) serves up more of their wildly kaleidoscopic vision, which is rampant on the two songs offered here – both of which display different sides of Safetyword. It’s less ‘two sides of a coin’ stuff, though, and more like a handful of dice.
Pope Joan sounds, as do many of their recordings, like they’ve been employing monks as roadies of late. Ecclesiastical and eclectic, it’s a polyrhythmic paradise with myriad twists and turns, launching into an angular guitar-pop coda before it’s time to kick back with some tonic wine. Guitars snake and creep while neatly understated drums are the fulcrum, powering everything along, always hinting that something is about to erupt any time soon.
Dandelion Clock is an altogether quieter affair, as close to a cosmic lullaby that you’re likely to get, the plaintive guitar plucking and delicately chiming melody being serene if also a little sinister. If Syd Barrett had taken up babysitting you can bet that toddlers everywhere would be snoozing to songs of this charmingly abstruse ilk.
400 only seven inch vinyl in a hand stamped wood cut sleeve.