It’s always a pleasure to see the latest Dave Graney and Clare Moore recording drop into the in-box. What’s different this time though is that, as an avid watcher of Dave ‘n’ Clare’s Saturday Night/Sunday Morning “Stage It” shows, I’ve been exposed to a lot of the music of this album already. Their 50 minute shows, live from their home in the suburbs of Melbourne, act as a surrogate for gig performances during the pandemic. Given their visits to the UK are few and far between this has been a sort of nirvana for the Graney/Moore aficionado in the northern hemisphere, a fortnightly dose of Graney and Moore has been a welcome respite to the worst elements of lockdown.
Early tentative performances from the studio area in the Ponderosa (the name they use for their home) have grown into slick, well delivered, often humorous, and always fascinating entertainments late on a Saturday evening once a fortnight. During the 18 months or so of those shows we have heard the bulk of their huge back catalogue, a range of covers from the sublime to the slightly bizarre (the theme tune to Towering Inferno for example i.e “We May Never Love Like This Again” by Maureen McGovern, which won an Academy Award in 1974), through to a steady release of new music. The bulk of this release therefore has grown, developed, gestated and been finessed as part of a unique process of social interaction.
As this album was being recorded in the space for the original “Stage It” shows the duo has recently moved upstairs to the main part of the house creating an open more inviting feel to the performances. It has been during the last few months of these performances that many of the new songs on this album began to emerge.
Graney and Moore recordings to some degree match John Peel’s description of The Fall in that, like Prestwich’s finest they are also “always different but always the same”. That is particularly true in this case in that a range of new musical directions have been brought into play. Notably Dave’s guitar work has developed a unique scale/riff approach where instead of chords he plays continuous musical lines. Clare’s percussion work, particularly on xylophone has developed an approach that follows Dave’s playing but adds layers of sound which would not be out of place in work by John Adams. Steve Reich or Phillip Glass. The recent Stage It show at the end of August was a master class in unique music with some passages which would not have been out of place at a concert by fellow Australians The Necks.
As usual, lyrically there is a lot of attention required by the listener, there is some deep, and sometimes heavy/heady stuff going on here. Whilst as they say in their promo “each track could be suggesting a whole album of a different nature” there are themes across the album which resonate between tracks and back to previous releases. The current obsession (if that’s the right word) with the mythology of The Rolling Stones which follows on from “Ultrakeef” on the last MistLy album is revealed in the superb “The Anita Effect”. In addition, as the liner notes say, there are “teenage biker gangs (I Knew the Wild Angels), American cultural firefights (Wilco Got No Wilco), tobacco scenes, alcoholic scenes, iconic female rambling singer scenes and two instrumentals – one very Russian and another kind of Dublin/Miami”. This all makes for a varied programme of wonderful music,
Rock, jazz, blues, alternative, instrumental, serial music – they are all here in an excellent collection.
One of my favourite Graney and Moore releases is the 2000 album “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” and this new one ranks alongside that , in my opinion, as some of the finest work they have done. Once again they are probably going to be up at the top of my end of year list of the best of the year in 2021. Having said that, again a bit like The Fall, if you asked me to pick my favourite Graney and Moore release I would just furnish you with the whole list of every one!
The album is released on CD and digitally on October 1st – pre-order on Bandcamp below.