23 aprile 2014


Vedrà la luce tra poche settimane l'album che Mick Hobbs aveva iniziato a mettere a punto a metà degli anni novanta - inteso a riaprire l'antico capitolo Officer! assieme agli attuali compagni di Half Japanese e Strobe Talbot - ma mai portato a termine. Si chiama Dead Unique, e lo pubblica in vari formati l'etichetta Blackest Ever Black.

A complex but thrillingly immediate avant-pop song cycle that charms and confounds at every turn, Dead Unique will give immense pleasure not only to Officer!’s existing cult following, but to anyone with an appreciation of piquant, idiosyncratic songcraft – fans of Kevin Ayers, Flaming Tunes, Art Bears, Woo, Dislocation Dance, R. Stevie Moore, Robert Wyatt, Cleaners From Venus, Lol Coxhill or The Monochrome Set should especially pay attention. It touches upon ragged-raw rock ‘n roll, sumptuous chamber music, pastoral folk, blowsy prog-jazz and paranoid dub-space, effortlessly shifting from skronking abstraction to rousing harmonic refrain and back again.
Dead Unique is also the culmination of Hobbs’ lifelong collaborative impulse: his visionary ability to bring musicians together, galvanise them and wrestle coherence out of the collective free play of ideas, arriving at something far more than the sum of its parts. The tension between composition and improvisation is key to the LP’s power, with Hobbs abetted by an extraordinary supporting cast that includes Tim Hodgkinson (bass clarinet), Fred Collins (vocals), Patrick Q (violin), Martha Colburn (vocal), Gilles Rieder (drums), Jad Fair (vocals) and Jason Willett (bass, keyboards, trumpet). Special mention must go to John Dierker, whose superbly expressive clarinet and saxophone parts are a fixture throughout, and to Joey Stack, who takes lead vocals on ‘Good’ and the show-stopping ‘Elephant Flowers’. Nonetheless it is the voice of Hobbs – as principal writer, performer and protagonist of these songs – that resonates most powerfully. Blurring the roles of storyteller, poet and prankster, he turns memorable line after memorable line, booby-trapping them with mischievous puns, fleet-footed literary allusions, sudden digressions and shifts of register, nonsense rhymes and other wordplay. But his acute wit and flair for the absurd is moored by a deep romantic sensibility, and though it delights in the minutiae of the human comedy, Dead Unique ultimately addresses its biggest themes: love, loss, commitment, independence, the mutability and inconstancy of all things. “You lose, you learn, you advance… but you always go back.”