The Techie Piece.
The voice on the other end of the phone is near hysterical.
“Have you listened to it?”
But he had after all, spent the afternoon necking cider, watching the local junior team turn over their local rivals in a grudge match of epic proportions.
“It’s the fuckin’ Queens Of The Stone Age man! Listen. Kin ye hear it? ‘Kin Ra Ra Kin’ Robin’s turned intae the fuckin’ Queens Of The Stone Age!”
The commentary provided above was accompanied by short periods of inaudible pops and whistles as the microphone of the Apple I-phone mobile handset, a product of the naughties, is struggling to pick up the output from the speaker connected to the CD player, a product of the 80’s, which was presently transforming the 1’s and 0’s burned into the photosensitive data spiral from nothing more than digitally stored information, back into a very good approximation of the original sounds produced and recorded by, Adullboy, West Lothian’s king of lo-fi confessional verse, right here and now in the dying end of the tennies.
That afternoon Robin had also been at The Dale game, standing on the covered terracing where, at half-time, he handed out his latest offering in exchange for a few sovereigns. I had bought one, but hadn’t managed to listen to it in the 30 minutes since returning home.
“Aye it sounds great Rab!”
“He sounds like he’s been spending time with Josh Homme right enough.” I rep-lied.
The Backgroundy Piece.
Adullboy in his off stage persona has been promising something new for a while. His back catalogue has recently been released on a number of streaming platforms, a big decision as Robin has resisted this move on a matter of principal to date. It boasts 4 releases: The Banyan EP; Ganglion; Champagne Again…., and Human Cafe. All of which are worth a stream if you are looking for some background listening.
A few months back he released a teaser track Big Glove (named so to avoid getting lawyers involved). It came with a Pink Floyd, The Wall style video and a warning that it was different from anything he’d done previously, but that it also didn’t reflect the way the album would go. He was right on both accounts.
The Reviewy Piece.
Opener, King Rat Rat King : Episode I is like “the fuckin’ Queens Of The Stone Age man” [Credit : Wee Rab]. I know this is hard to imagine if you’ve not heard it, but it could be right off an early recording from the Desert Sessions. Just swap the dust and heat of Palm Desert for the red ash and exhaust fumes of the mid-summer Friday night speedway at Armadale Raceway. It’s a major departure from the stripped back Central Scotland Folk offered up on previous releases. Guitar and drum heavy, or is it heavy in guitar and drums, as openers go this is brave stuff, but it definitely makes you sit up and listen. There are no lyrics as such, but the title is barked at the listener, daring you to listen to the rest of the album, even if it’s only to see where it takes you musically.
Second track, Another Life, is classic Adullboy. Reflecting on previous life events, it feels like a cleansing act of rumination following the thunder of the opener. Just when you thought all was about to change, the familiar slide guitars and acerbic lyrics tackle the real world with trademark honesty. Allowing the listener a quick insight to the darkness that had driven previous releases. But this is also a letting go experience. A moving on. Adullboy is metaphorically cleaning out his cupboards, saying goodbye to the old and making room for the new.
Victoria sees Robin take another leftfield turn into hitherto unheard of territory as he introduces a cello and abstract imagery. For those willing to do the research, you’ll find that the subject matter, a sub-sub-sub-island located on Victoria Island, could just be the heart of this album, as it is claimed that it may never have been set foot on…..symbolically taking us to somewhere no man or Adullboy, has ever been before.
An old friend makes an appearance on the 4th track Brain, or is it two old friends. The “haunted” Magnus Chord Organ accompanies the old Adullboy as he explores the mental health issues he has struggled with over the years. Dark and plodding, the song lays the subject matter bare for the listener, pleading for help to fix it.
Whisky & Wine is darkly comedic in the way it captures the remorse of the morning after, as our minstrel tries to understand what went wrong the night before and whilst apologising for his excess, hopes for some wisdom to come from the “back to mine” night before.
King Rat Rat King Episode II, would I suspect be the first track on the b-side of a vinyl version of Into Tiny Pieces. Wikipedia will tell you about Rat Kings and their place in history. They repeatedly pop up in various guises, often as omens of bad tidings like the plague. Adullboy has given this track a reworking since it first appeared as the opener. Less guitar and drum this time, more atmospheric sounds taking us into the rat’s subterranean lair, where we could be witnessing the tangled mess of a rat king in the flesh.
And then we are whipped from below ground and in the bright sunlight of the other side of this bi-polar album, we are presented with the holiday garland of the aforementioned teaser track, Big Glove. This number is a clear departure for Robin, but it is also a welcome relief from a run of tracks, heavy in sound and subject matter. Big Glove is an 80’s inspired exploration of the beast with two backs. Borrowing sonically from the pop dancefloor sound of Blancmange and The Human League, it puts a smile on your face as Adullboy characteristically tackles yesterday’s taboo subject of sex in a matter of fact, textbook study of the act.
Following the exertions of the previous track, Love Is A Marathon is soporiphic afterglow to Big Glove. It carefully wraps it’s arms around you saying all is well and that what we are feeling is a long term commitment to share all the good and bad that life has to offer. It shows a side to him that has not been obvious from previous outings. It seems someone is in a good place just now.
King Rat Rat King : Episode III presents me with my saddest moment of this album. You see, both me and Wee Rab were invited to take part in the recording of this third and most adventurous treatment given to this title, but for different reasons, neither of us could make it. Recorded in the front hall of Adullboy’s home on Halloween, a metronomic piano provides the backing to the chaotic vocals provided by friends and family, finishing with a frightening prediction delivered by Wee Arran before the closing scene scream. It’s The Shining meets Twin Peaks with copious amounts of fun thrown in.
That could have been the end of the album and no one would have uttered a word, but as with the modern trend in films, Into Tiny Pieces has a hidden scene following the credits in the form of closer, Lay Me Down. There’s a country feel to this one as the singer accedes to his fate with assured knowledge that this is where he’s meant to be.
The Summary Piece
Into Tiny Pieces sees Adullboy take risks that have all paid off. He has experimented with subject matter, format, sound and writing style to pull together what is a complete album. I only wish I could have been part of this entanglement of tales from his mind, but maybe next time.
Album Title : Into Tiny Pieces
Additional Contributors : Barry McGreskin, John McKay, Kyle Wood, Paul Clunie, Steve Crossar, Sandy Power and Neil MacKenzie.
Released on Common Records.