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    Search For A Little Strangeness - Coldplay, Robert Wyatt & Public Image Ltd?

    It must be the contrarian in me. With Coldplay about to begin their Australian tour tomorrow night, why do I find myself searching through my old boxes of vinyl seeking out long-neglected albums by Public Image Limited, Robert Wyatt and Can?


    And for the first time in about 30 years having conversations with people which feature the words Amon Duul and Van Der Graaf Generator? Not to mention sitting here with the headphones on chuckling at the new album by new millennium sonic riddlers Matmos.


    These names may mean nothing to you and, indeed, the number of people who own albums by both Coldplay and, say, Robert Wyatt, Can and Matmos are not numerous. The former, you might have noticed, sell records and concert tickets – 20,000 this weekend in Brisbane – by the bucketload. The latter do not. Tunes much harder to whistle, as well.Confession: I have never owned an album by Amon Duul (art-rock innovators, late '60s, from Germany) and Van Der Graaf Generator (ditto, from England) although I've always rather thought that I should, ever since devouring reviews of their work in music papers at school when I should have been paying attention in economics or history.


    Of course, it's a slippery slope from there to being a music writer.


    This week, I've hardened my resolve to join the small band in the Amon Duul owners club. And if I'm feeling that contrary, it must be June. At this time of year a teetering stack of "commercial" releases – they like to shove 'em out before the end of the financial year, presumably in a bottom-line building exercise – sits before me, works of genius possibly in there somewhere, fighting for attention with the predictable to the plain awful.


    Bloody reviewers, people say. They always like the weird stuff.


    Well, I love my pop as much as anyone and have the Monkees and Supremes records to prove it. But for me there has always been the allure of the exotic as well. The ear is like the palate. Sometimes your favourite flavour loses its kick and you need a surprise or three to get the taste back.


    Whether it's a good thing that the surprises are so easily available these days – Amon Duul's Tanze Der Lemminge available for $22.49 from Amazon, it just took me three seconds to discover – is a matter for conjecture. Part of the thrill, perhaps the most important point, was that this stuff took work to discover and explore. But there is still plenty of strangeness for anyone who cares to go digging for it.


    For instance, The Rose Has Teeth In the Mouth of a Beast by Matmos, a collection of 10 "sound portraits" from the San Francisco avant-experimentalists, each inspired by a bunch of people they admire, from William S. Burroughs to ill-starred English record producer Joe Meek.


    There is more to this than blipping synthesisers and nervy rhythms, even if the concept does read like it might be the kind of thing usually reserved for publicly funded festival commissions, and therefore of no interest to contrarians.


    Don't be put off by the fact that Matmos claim to have had snails crawl across the path of a laser to trigger effects on a light-sensitive theremin for Snails and Lasers for Patricia Highsmith. The results are much more fun than that sounds.


    Also coming soon: The Eraser, debut solo album from Radiohead's Thom Yorke. More jittery bits, "tech-jazz" and minimalistic laptop sketches? According to all reports, yes.


    Will it raise as many grins as the musings of Matmos? With a song called Harrowdown Hill – the English woods where weapons inspector Dr David Kelly committed suicide – certainly not.


    Still, contrary types and Can enthusiasts ahoy. Strangeness awaits!


    Source: http://couriermail.news.com.au

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