Aleks and the Ramps – Pisces Vs Aquarius (Cavalier)

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“So it’, ah, One-two-three-four-five-six!” cries a faint voice, counting in “123456 (pardon us)’. And that about sums up the appeal of this gloriously insane Melbourne quintet, who perform on stage as if they had at least forty limbs between them and who can shoehorn eight dimensions of musical inventiveness into a space smaller than a sub-atomic particle.

Remember those carpet-cleaning ads in the 1980s that featured Pro Hart chucking spaghetti, jam and paint in every direction? “Oh Mr Hart, what a mess!” Transpose to music and you have Aleks and his merry Ramps: it’s not pretty, but the genius is undeniable. The major tracks – “Aminals’, “Rigor Mortis’ and “Brain’ – each spin out a tale of bodily horror, twisting through backwoods banjo and sickly glockenspiel. Intensely claustrophobic, generally starring some dysfunctional couple hell-bent on doing each other damage, the effect is pure American Gothic. “We must have looked like such a strange pair/Me with my respirator, you with your wheelchair” – it’s the album’ key line, on “Brain’, and it makes you seriously wonder about the dynamic that’s playing out between real-life partners Aleks (baritone, banjo) and Janita (bass) as the two trade lines. Their fantasyland is a dark one.

It’s also a deft one, and it’s the Ramps obvious skill that catapults them above a mere novelty act. Their take on dance music (“Dead But Dreaming’) is calibrated to make bottoms wiggle, while closing track “Diary of a Lizard Man’ steals the insistent “oh-oh-oh-ohs’ of Laurie Anderson’ “O Superman’ and then drops down into a moment of finger-clicking acoustic melancholia. There’ even a storm thundering away in the background. And dogs barking. Probably fake. Trumpets. Did I mention the Spanish-language version of Roxette’ “It Must Have Been Love’?

This is everything and the kitchen sink. Revel in it.

Emmy Hennings

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emmy likes cats, cooking, zines and anarchism. tea pots, typewriters and vinyl records make her happy.

1 Comment

  1. rad kids indeed~!

    gigging up the east coast right about now…
    .
    http://www.myspace.com/aleksandtheramps

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