Thursday, May 24, 2012

THE LEG Eagle To Saturn

How is this music?” was the scathing reaction of the person who interrupted my solitary and loud playing of this record. My reaction was somewhat different: “I hope this keeps its immediacy after the first listen” followed swiftly by “hang on, this reminds me of Khaya”. And to my surprised delight the screeching-with-strings of The Leg is indeed a direct descendant of 90s Edinburgh noise-niks Khaya who then begat Desc. And in fact The Leg - Daniel Mutch (banjo/guitar), Pete Harvey (cello) and Alun Thomas (drums) – are on their third album with “Eagle To Saturn“. Previous label SL Records lays out the Khaya biog here and current label Song By Toad completes the other end of the tale here.

Khaya could emulate The Pixies at their most shrieking and weird. Here The Leg channel their undiminished energy for weird shrieking into a rabid folk-punk. With cello. And where cello is often used to add elegance or gravitas, here it groans and saws ominously to add a spooky underscore to Mutch’s psychiatric ward screams and surreal lyrics. ‘Bake Yourself Silly’ (free download below) is the litmus test for whether you will get this record or not. It’s sternly confrontational and angry banjo-driven tune, with a bitter humour that is almost extinguished by the sense of menace. “There are no stitches / cuz there was no operation” many seem tame written down but the simmering, implied threat behind Mutch’s delivery makes it deeply disturbing. Elsewhere the album twists through warped moonshine blues (‘God Don’t Like It’), Swans-like brutality (‘Freda Bolt’) and over-driven, hyper-fast rant (‘Twitching Stick’). The Leg can do slow and sinister too: ‘The Birds Are Falling’ is a sludgy belly-crawl with more of that sawing cello and the distorted wails of what sounds like the unremorseful man who poisoned said falling birds.

Last year I put Desc into Obscurometer - it was given a 97% obscure rating. Khaya does slightly better at 95.5%. This record like earlier mutations of the band is not an easy listen but the real question we should be asking is: “how is this music...not better known?”. “Eagle To Saturn” provides a happy re-connection with fond memories of an earlier band for me but also a unpredictable, wilful, alarming 29 minute ride for the brave-hearted.

The Leg Eagle To Saturn [BUY]

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