The garden at night

The Clientele’s That night, a forest grew EP is finally available for purchase (you can hear it in full here).  Already discussed in these pages, ‘Share the night’ is the stand-out song of the four; once again Alasdair languidly tosses out fragments of which poets would be proud (‘as the baby bats fly through the porcelain cracks’) above music which sounds like Greeting from LA-era Tim Buckley informed by three subsequent decades of dance music.  ‘Retiro Park’ runs it close with its somnambulant vocal, blurred at the edges, melting like candle wax.  In keeping with groove the Clientele have found within themselves, Mel has downed the fiddle and scraper to add piano and organ to this and the other songs.  ‘Retiro Park’ shares its Northern soul stomp and glide with ‘George says he has lost his way in this world’, a title which allows us to hope that we might have a Freshies thing going on here.  Younger readers may not be aware of Chris Sievey’s group, whose singles – before Chris turned into eyeball-headed Frank Sidebottom – included ‘I’m in love with the girl on the Manchester Virgin Megastore checkout desk’, and ‘I can’t get ‘Bouncing babies’ by the Teardrop Explodes’.  As I recall the latter was extended parenthetically outwards by a further factor of one: ‘I can’t get ‘I can’t get ‘Bouncing babies’ by the Teardrop Explodes’ by the Freshies’, only my memory can’t dredge up the name of the smart alecks responsible.

The George in question in the Clientele song is George Henderson of Dunedin-based Flying Nunsters the Puddle.  ‘I’ve lost my way in this world’ appears on their recent LP, No love – no hate, which is well worth the price of admission, with meandering guitar lines that teeter thrillingly on the edge of disaster but just about keep their balance.  George reveals himself to be the missing link between another man who lost his way in this world before finding it again – Vic Godard – and Guided By Voices’ Robert Pollard, whose state of certitude about his place in this world I’m not qualified to comment on.  Obviously I would like to prevail upon someone to progress this Puddle-Clientele chain one further step by penning ‘The Clientele say that George says he has lost his way in this world’.

There is still another joker on the new Clientele EP in the form of the title track, a spoken word companion piece to ‘The garden at night’, with a spiral staircase of guitar whose spirit if not actual hook I would wager has been borrowed unwittingly or otherwise from ‘Ten feet tall’ on XTC’s Drums and wires.

Clientele completists can also (and again at last) grab the download-only Bookshop Casanova EP, featuring their cover of Television’s ‘The fire’ and ‘The girl from somewhere’ – a song which would have fitted comfortably on either The violet hour or Strange geometry – from a variety of outlets (listed here on the Clientele’s forum), a number of whom rather charmingly describe the girl as being from ‘nowhere’ rather than ‘somewhere’.

There’s another Clientele cat to bag while you’re at it, and that is their ‘Your song’ from film musical The bigtop, and its accompanying and cunningly titled soundtrack album Songs from the bigtop.  As far as I can tell the movie hasn’t seen the light of day.  All of the songs for the film were written by its director, Devon Reed, who then collaborated with the group for whom he had written the song, so if nothing else you can rest easy in the knowledge that the song is not a cover of the old Elton John chestnut.  It is in fact a rather lovely miniature to stand alongside ‘Bicycles’, and the Clientele inhabit the song to the extent that you would swear it was a MacLean original.

Last but not least, there is Country music: songs for Keith Girdler, Keith being the erstwhile singer for Blueboy who sadly died last year.  The Clientele have contributed a re-recording of ‘Breathe in now’, a song demoed prior to Strange geometry, alongside tracks by Trembling Blue Stars, the Would-be-goods, and Biff Bang Pow!, as well as Blueboy’s fellow Sarah stalwarts St. Christopher, the Wake, and the Orchids.  Released by Siesta, the proceeds from the album are being donated to the Martlets Hospice in Hove.

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