Welcome back to the wacky world of Jarrod Gosling! Last year I reviewed his debut offering, the quite barking but fun trip that was Use And Ornament, an album released in December 2013, and October 2014 saw the release of this, his second strangely strange but oddly normal offering. Having looked long and hard in the mirror he now decides that actually, it’s of neither use nor ornament, but I beg to differ.
Always imbued with a zany sense of humour, according to the various photos in the press pack Jarrod has this to say in a spoof advert for his favourite keyboard instrument – “Regal Worm’s Varrod Goblink loves his Mellotron M400 so much that he’s moved in. The new M400 is the answer to this one man band’s cosmic dreams.” A photoshopped Jarrod appears, peering from over the back of the keyboard in Kilroy/Chad fashion, a thermos flask and an alarm clock ornamenting the top of the ancient instrument. This is all very arch and knowing, and somehow very English, and like the music he makes induces a smile – with not at, I hasten to add.
Weaving a path from a musical childhood under the influence of everything from “Isaac Hayes’ ‘Shaft’, ABBA, Mott The Hoople’s ‘All The Young Dudes’, 10cc, Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’, Walt Disney soundtracks and Geoff Love’s ‘Big Terror Themes’ amongst others”, via being influenced by his dad’s prog cassettes, through 2-Tone, art college and various stints in bands playing bass and keyboards, Jarrod ends up making experimental electronic dance music with Dean Honer under the moniker I Monster. Cut’n’paste electronica featuring snatches of Jim Reeves, Edmundo Ross and other exotica, collaboration with Moby, and theme tune compositional success follows, and Jarrod uses his share of the ensuing largesse to buy his beloved Mellotron M400 and a tinkling of other keyboards, and the rest is history.
That introduction was almost as long and rambling as one of Jarrod’s meandering epic tracks, and Neither Use Nor Ornament has two of them. My recent growing dislike of prog epics, the reasons for which I won’t bore you with again, are put on hold where this musical kleptomaniac is concerned. For once throwing the proverbial kitchen sink in the mix seems to work, and all the many influences mentioned above stirred together with a dollop of good old-fashioned English eccentricity and a healthy disregard for conventionality that has once more produced a smorgasbord of delights. Love it or hate it, you won’t get bored listening to one of Jarrod’s broken satnav journeys up musical cul-de-sacs, leaping over fences, wandering illogically across muddy fields, for it is all in the cause of forging new shortcuts to the eventual music superhighway.
Subtitled A Small Collection Of Big Suites, Neither Use Nor Ornament is the sound of three scruffy and tiny sheep held in check by two elephant-sized border collies. Bookending the album are two sprawling epics, the first with the zany sectional titling familiar from the first album, the second more prosaically subtitled “Parts 1to 5”. Neither Use Nor Ornament takes us on a journey through all manner of pop and rock exotica, all with a distinct Cantabrian bent.
Rather than get all analytical and over-wordy where the long ‘uns are concerned, and to be honest, to make my task easier, I will concentrate on the three tiny sheep. The scruffy sheep in the guise of Animal Attic in a short-lived burst of freedom gambols and kicks up a sax-led jazz-pop-prog storm, Tombland Guerilla is a Mellotron and church organ horror movie soundtrack snippet of a kind Goblin would be proud of, and Sovereign Of The Skies is a great little slice of 10CC pop dance at 75mph, or a song written by the guy who wrote the Pearl & Dean tune after a night on the smarties. It will get you twitching, or you must already be dead.
You can work it all out for yourself via the Bandcamp link below, but as far as I’m concerned, Neither Use Nor Ornament is a great little of album of sensible length, and a must for lovers of marmalade on toast.
01. Odilon Escapes From The Charcoal Oblivion. But Endeavours To Return And Rescue The Cactus Men (18:39)
– i Another Forlorn Morn
– ii You Know What? I’m Getting Out Of Here
– iii Arrival Of Sorts
– iv Paradise Is Twice As Nice
– v End Of Level Baddie
– vi Prism Prison
02. Animal Attic (2:58)
03. Tombland Guerilla (1:22)
04. Sovereign Of The Skies (4:56)
05. The King Of Sleep (Parts 1 to 5) (18:34)
Total Time – 46:29
Jarrod Gosling – Mellotron M400, RMI 368 Electra Piano, Octave Kitten, Minimax ASB, ARP 2600, Hammond L122, Hammond T500, Fender Rhodes, Philips Philicorda AG-755 Organ, Korg MS20, EDP Wasp Deluxe, Kawai S100, Piano, Bass Guitar, Voice, 6 & 12 String electric guitars, Acoustic Guitar, Glockenspiels, Drums, Mandolin, Stylophone, Percussion, Accordion, Lap Steel Guitar, Toy Piano, Recorder, Bowed Cymbal & Field Recordings
Louis Atkinson: Tenor & Soprano Saxophones
Emily Ireland: Voice
Graham McElearney: Harp
Kevin Pearce: Voice
Peter Rophone: Voice, 12 String Acoustic Guitar & Portuguese Guitarra
Mick Somerset-Ward – Tenor Saxophone & Flute
Record Label: Quatermass Records
Year Of Release: 2014