Well, Nick wanted quiet, so I thought I would bring something that is barely there, in a literal sense as well as sonically.
In fact, Aldous Harding is barely anywhere….a record that neither Rob or Nick had heard of is rare indeed. A record that hasn’t got an Allmusic review is hallowed ground. In fact, Aldous hasn’t even got a wikipedia entry, which must mean that either she doesn’t actually exist, is less than two years of age…or that she is from New Zealand.
Which of course, isn’t the case. Not EVERYBODY I take to record club is from New bloody Zealand! Having researched extensively by, y’know’ reading books and stuff, it turns out that Aldous ‘Keith’ Harding was born in Chipping Sodbury in the year 2000. Solely proficient in the playing of spoons, it is actually her pet chimp, ‘Mr Crumble’ who takes the lead on most of the guitar solos on the album. The jury is out as to whether the music on this, her eighth album, is ‘black’ or ‘death’ or, indeed, ‘black death’ metal but the pounding drums and terrifying vocals have to be heard to be believed.
No matter how many times I hear it, her hidden track cover version of Showaddywaddy’s Under The Moon Of Love never fails to move me to tears. A departure from her earlier work, Aldous Harding the album has a pop sensibility that underpins every damn note on the record – imagine Tribe of Toffs’ John Kettley is a Weather Man crossed with Meat Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell…III, and you’ll be close to the overall sound of the album, the chiming guitars from Crumble coalescing with Harding’s finest cutlery to produce sounds that echo glories past but are, frankly, unlike anything else in recorded music. Don’t believe me? Well do yourselves a favour and go buy yourself a copy of this fine slab of vinyl and then get back to me if it isn’t one of the best things you’ve heard all year!
PS Aldous…If you ever happen to stumble upon this ridiculous piece of writing (and with your internet presence I doubt you will), I most humbly apologise. I actually think your album is a wonderful, wonderful thing; one of the most delicate, arid and quietly devastating records I have heard in a long time.
My post is really just a silly way of pointing out how over-reliant we are on the internet, how rare it is that we can stumble across gems like this, whilst knowing so little about the person who made them. My discovery of your music (with so little to go on..thank you Marc Riley on 6 Music), and the time I have subsequently spent with your songs, has brought me great pleasure.
Rob listened: In accidental keeping with Tom’s conceit of obscuring his real thoughts on this record with some other writing, a veritable palimpsest if you will, I wrote up and, I thought, published some rather erudite comments on Aldous Harding a couple of weeks ago and they seem, on my return, to have disappeared.
It was quite refreshing to hear a record none of us had heard of, including Tom more or less, and which was practically unfindable online. No preconceptions, no-one telling us what to think. Just like the old days, perhaps. The record turned out to be an intriguing listen, working inside a range but within that displaying wilful variety between tracks. ‘Aldous Harding’ was a fascinating counterpoint to the Grouper record. One is an artist who obscures her true intentions underneath layers of fog and reverb. The other makes it difficult to know her by skipping around wildly between styles and approaches, within a crystal clear sound. I hope the internet discovers Aldous Harding soon.