gullbuy music review

Northern Picture Library


Alaska / Love Song for the Dead Che




Northwern Picture Library CD coverNorthern Picture Library was Bobby Wratten's band between Field Mice and Trembling Blue Stars. But it was more than that. The band had all three members of The Field Mice: Bobby Wratten , Mark Dobson and Bobby's paramour Annemari Davies.

Alaska/Love Song for the Dead Che is a CD reissue from LTM which combines the 1993 Alaska LP with the Love Song for the Dead Che EP.

After the half minute intro, Alaska proper started with Into The Ether. The song is one of my favorites on the LP. It is slow and dreamy, with a MBV vibe throughout.

Glitter Spheres is a one minute experimental instrumental. It is followed by the super-slow song Insecure, which is sung by Annemari.

Lucky, sung by Annemari, is another one of my faves. The bass plays a reggae riff. The guitar uses echo like in a dub track, and also uses a sitar-like sound that MBV used. There is a harmonica (or is it melodica?) solo with reverb. The song is a near perfect treat. The Lucky (reprise) appearing later in the LP is just a 1:30 piano rendering of the song.

LSD Icing is kind of like The Field Mice song Humblebee from the Skywriting LP, but only 2 minutes instead of Humblebee's almost 7. It is a psychedelic collage.

Truly Madly Deeply and Catholic Easter Colours are tracks that could have been on a Field Mice record, with Aztec Camera styled sound. They are my least favorite tracks on the disc, though there is nothing innately wrong with them.

Isn't It Time You Faced the Truth? has a sound about halfway between Rain Parade and MBV, and is another one of my faves.

Untitled #2 is a 45 second intermission that precedes Skylight. Skylight is an acoustic Aztec Camera styled track. As the track progresses, more sounds come in, including cello, backing vocals, and background sounds. The song tells a story, and draws you into it.

Of Traffic and the Ticking has enough layered vocals to have been one of Free Design's more melancholy songs. There is a Strawberry Fields keyboard phasing in and out, and a harpsichord. The pace is slow, and Bobby's vocals tell another story.

The original Alaska LP ended with Monotone, another of my faves on the disc. It is an eight and a half minute moody instrumental with electronics. If is the loudest song on the LP due to the electronic percussion. The mood is around halfway between Joy Division and MBV. I really like the way it builds, and the tremolo keyboard.

Love Song for the Dead Che is a cover of the Joe Byrd United States of America song. Northern Picture Library turned Love Song for the Dead Che into 2 distinct songs, which they released on an EP with The Way That Stars Die.

This CD ends with The Way That Stars Die, an electronic song with trance-like vocals by Annemari. It is like a dark sister to Saint Etienne's Like A Motorway. It is very catchy, and closes out a fine CD on a strong note.

Faves: 2,7,10,15,16,18

---Carl, May 17, 2005