By Reed Fischer
By Anna Gulbrandsen
By Jeff Gage
By Stacy Schwartz
By Natalie Gallagher
By Erik Thompson
By Jeff Gage
By Loren Green
The Welcome Table
It takes a pretty shrewd band to fool people into thinking their music is boring. Granted, that kind of shrewdness should be fairly common in rock music, where patience is a vice and the Ramones' conquering-heroes status is, 30 years on, posited directly against the evil of side-length prog suites. But the surly bounds initially appear to have been broken with this album: The cover looks like the tablecloth at a Shakey's Pizza gawped at while under the effect of assorted hallucinogens, there's a song called "The Chart" (does the 12-inch have the Excel spreadsheet dubstrumental?), the leadoff track is 24 and a half minutes long, honestly, people. Teeth of the keep-it-simple crowd have been gnashed recently over a Strokes album being 54 minutes and including a couple of funny-sounding guitar bits; perhaps this is not a climate in which Super Numeri belong.
So let's pretend it's 1970 in Cologne, by way of Columbia's Studio B. The moment the realization sinks in that The Welcome Table is not, in fact, boring neatly coincides with the realization that Super Numeri like them some Can and electric Miles Davis, but possibly suspect that those folks were a bit too earthbound. The Liverpool collective, by point of comparison, are psychedelic in practically the exact opposite way that their terse immediate neighbors Clinic are, opting instead to roll out slow builds and gradual revelations. "The Sea Wolves" opens with a needling minute's worth of seesawing thereminesque call-and-response blips, like a submarine's radar with sleep apnea. It's an irritating lure that suddenly coalesces into sense once the Celtic harp trickles in to spar with a Wayne Shorter-like lullaby sax. "The Buzzard and the Lamb" toys around with pseudoaluminum synthesizers, hints of guitar, and stray percussion glowing through the seams, until the cowbell-and-conga percussion rattles in to evoke a microcosm of Miles's On the Corner and push toward the sun.
And then there's "The First League of Angels," that monstrous first track. Ignore the official track listing, shuffle the beginning to the end, and it becomes the crescendo of a '70s-esque avant-psych epiphany: The final dying breath of an Eno synth leads into the harp, which is gradually subsumed by a fusion-Bonham drum stomp, a Holger Czukay bass line fueled by a bit too much coffee or tea, and a guitar that evokes more fantastical dope haze with mere reverb than most Elephant Sixers could hope to accomplish with an armada of Syd-alikes.
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