Smoke Bellow - Open For Business
Transcontinental, experimental duo Smoke Bellow was formed in 2012 by Meredith McHugh and Christian J. Best, and over the following decade relocated back and forth between Melbourne, Australia and Baltimore, Maryland, and released the Blooming/Middling LP in 2014, followed by Isolation 3000 in 2018, both on Baltimore label Ehse Records.
After a line-up shuffle, they eventually recruited one of their favourite drummers and dear friend, Emmanuel Nicolaidis (Thank You, Oh Hang), which found the band refining of their sound into a dizzyingly attractive mixture of kosmiche serenity, minimalist composition, test-card psychedelia, and highlife guitar. With Open for Business, the three members set out to create a set of songs more immediate and bare than previous outings.
The album title itself is a cheeky reference to Maryland governor Larry Hogan's less than inspired motto "we're open for business" - half of the songs were written in a room together and the second half via email due to the pandemic restrictions. Much of the album was then recorded in a remote cabin in the Smoky Mountains.
At the time they were listening to a lot of post-punk and were struck with the partnership of drums and bass as propulsive instruments. The trio started writing songs around that idea - with the rhythm as a brace to hang their decorations, taking inspiration from many disparate places, including the heyday of Compass Point studios' famed rhythm section of Sly and Robbie, the Velvet Underground, ESG, guitar hero Zani Diabate, The Raincoats (especially their under-appreciated second album, Odyshape), the frenetic sound collisions of the Flying Lizards, the ever-warm blanket of Yo La Tengo, the evolving repetition of Stereolab, the understated genius of Asa Osborne, as well as Philip Glass and Steve Reich. David Byrne/Robert Wilson's The Knee Plays also reminded them of the joy of the spoken word set to music.
Lyrically, Best and McHugh drew from life in Baltimore, from isolation, memories of life in Melbourne, their friends and each other. "We wanted to talk about resilience and resistance."
Take The Line For A Walk
- US import
- LP housed in reverse-board jacket, and includes full-colour insert
- CD housed in gatefold card jacket with 6mm spine, and includes full-colour insert
- Limited edition 'rolled-gold' colour vinyl available exclusively from indie stores
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