Label: Tursa (TE002)
A Horse with One Leg
With Pessimistic Optimism
Lucifer Before Sunrise
10mg of Diazepam
Crow Funeral (Terry and Dave Emigrate to Benidorm)
In Defence of Shoplifting
The Poor Broken Boy
A Sandwich Short
Yesterday Was Years Ago
A Sandwich Short was written, recorded and produced in London and Brighton, England. Recording of Helen & Alice voices by Colin Potter at the Water Tower, Preston.
Many thanks to Steven Stapleton for permitting the re-invention of ‘Lucifer Before Sunrise’.
The CD comes in a jewelcase with 4-paged booklet.Reviews:
Michael J. Salo on 8 November 2006
One of my favorite albums of ’05 was the first Tony Wakeford & Andrew Liles collaboration as The Wardrobe titled ‘Cups in Cupboard’, which I felt to be an evocative blend of folk-noir acoustics and strange electronic accompaniment. That one was a tiny edition of 500, and a number of them were lost en route across the Atlantic so it’s even less. A real rarity if you have one.
‘Cups’ remains deleted but now we are presented a
new album from this curious duo.
This yankee can be a little slow to keep up with those zany Brits and their vast arsenal of witty expressions, so the first task at hand was to look up the title, ‘A Sandwich Short’. OK, this expression means “lacking in intelligence.”
The absurd choice of a title carries on something of a tradition for Wakeford’s most avant garde releases, going back to ‘Revenge of the Selfish Shellfish’ with Steven Stapleton (designed to be a “totally stupid” project, according to Stapleton in ‘England’s Hidden Reverse’).
The silly spirit is further represented by the giant sandwich appearing on the back cover art probably not a romantic enough image for say, a Sol Invictus album.
Despite the lighthearted side to the proceedings there’s always been much beauty to be found in Wakeford’s experimental efforts, and this album begins with a piano led piece that continues in the vein of the dark romantic, filmic qualities of ‘Cups’.
From there, ‘Sandwich’ starts getting weirder and more sinister. Where ‘Cups’ maintained a relatively consistent vibe, ‘Sandwich’ is better described as being made up of many different parts, each track having its own odd character. The acoustic instrumentation and electronic sounds change with every track, dabbling in everything from accordian to didgeridoo.
Despite the varied musical approach there’s a particular atmosphere of menace that stays through this album. There are a number of dramatic peaks in the music, contrasting with the consistently mellow
The foremost peak of the album is surely the remake of “Lucifer Before Sunrise,” originally by Wakeford & Stapleton. It’s years since I heard the original, I don’t recall exactly what it sounded like, but here it is just the most delightfully Satanic track, its misanthropic lyrics made specially potent by being delivered by the sweet young lasses, Helen & Alice Potter. A brilliant idea.
It’s hard to say for certain but my impression is the overall composition of this album is heavy on the Andrew Liles influence, where the previous release feels more like it’s led by Wakeford and accompanied by Liles.
In summary, ‘Sandwich’ ranks as perhaps the weirdest album Tony Wakeford has ever released, and it even comes out on the weird side for Andrew Liles.
Everyone who enjoyed ‘Cups in Cupboard’ should surely pick this up to hear where they’ve taken the project next. Everybody else who enjoys their folk noir with a touch of sonic madness should also have a listen, along with anyone who happens to like their surreal electronics with a dash of real acoustics and some good old Satanism thrown in for fun.
Written by Jonathan Dean
Monday, 27 November 2006
It is nice to know that there are still people out there with very strange ideas, sufficiently demonstrated by this album, the second collaborative effort from Tony Wakeford and Andrew Liles. However, in a world in which Nurse With Wound is working on a HipHop album, and David Tibet is both a professed Christian and a cabinet member of the OTO, perhaps the word “strange” needs to be redefined.
For their second outing as The Wardrobe, Liles and Wakeford redefine the parameters of strangeness with an album that marries lovely, emotive, nostalgic instrumentals to the shudders and creaks of old Victoriana. More often than not, the songs meander and drift through the cobwebby attics of old English country houses, the eerie and insistent presence of memory creating an uncanny atmosphere that fairly sparks with ghostly electricity. Eerie electrical portals to other worlds are found amidst the creaking floorboards and old, out-of-tune pianos, dusty guitars and rusty accordions. Without warning, atmospheric melodies are overtaken by the free play of the unconscious, eccentric intrusions from out of the ether, snatches of warped dialogue, wobbly old 78s or incongruous sound effects suites pop in and out with a refreshing absence of logic.
Whereas the title of Cups in Cupboard, the duo’s first album, signified a measured appropriateness—cups in the cupboard, everything in its right place—the title of this sophomore album suggests incompleteness, lunacy and lame-brained-ness: “She’s a few sandwiches short of a picnic, that one.” Apropos of this contrast in title, the new album is not as pleasing and tuneful as that first album, preferring instead to push out the boundaries of discomfort, finding ever newer ways to subtly dislocate the listener in time and space. While the opening piano dirge “Wednesday” seems to start off in the same general ballpark as Cups, it soon descends into an eerie, droning netherworld, with a tinkling counter-melody that constantly threatens to derail the funereal proceedings. Everything finally digresses into buzzing electric insectoid oblivion, a miasma of withering 19th century parlor music, like watching a Merchant Ivory film on acid.
Things only get wackier from this point with the whimsically ramshackle “Horse With One Leg” and the heavily intoxicated, messily percussive strains of “Another Drink?”. “Lucifer Before Sunrise” will be the most pleasurable track for old-school Nurse With Wound fans, a reworking of a track that originally appeared on Stapleton and Wakeford’s sole collaboration The Revenge of the Selfish Shellfish. This time, the deeply weird crypto-Satanic text is read aloud by Colin Potter’s daughters (internal rhyme unintentional), as skeletal guitar figures are licked by crackling flames. The Potter girls’ spooky voices are twisted and mutated, scattered around the stereo channels, before being joined by Wakeford’s morbid, gravelly vocals, so familiar from well-worn Sol Invictus records from the past two decades. Everything you loved about the English underground esoteric music scene, all in the span of five minutes.
Since Current 93 and Nurse With Wound have apparently decided to take permanent vacations from these kinds of fucked gothic sound experiments, it’s nice to hear the flag still being carried by Liles and Wakeford. A Sandwich Short is the perfect mix of disarming melodies and outre electronic textures, with lots of delightfully menacing moments of plain, old-fashioned sinister whimsy.
The Wardrobe is a collaboration between Andrew Liles and Tony Wakeford. Andrew who is a long running electronic/experimental composer has worked with such artists as Bass Communion, Hafler Trio, Steven Stapleton, and Karl Blake to name but a few, while Tony Wakeford is of course the mastermind behind Sol Invictus, L’Orchestre Noir, and as well many other projects.
I’d have to say my initial reaction to this record was a weird one. As I pulled the CD out of the envelope my eyes meet with the picture of the sandwich that graces the back cover of the album and then flipped it over to see the weird cover image of a doll. I couldn’t help but chuckle a little more when I opened the booklet and seen the picture of two very unenthusiastic men, one of which, Mr. Wakeford was sitting down with a gigantic fish in hand.
‘A Sandwich Short,’ which means lacking in intelligence is the second album released by this duo, while the first and now deleted ‘Cups in Cupboard’ was released last year. I unfortunately missed this album so I really don’t know if this album bares similarities to the debut or to Andrews’s normal music. One thing for sure though is that this isn’t really the usually thing from Tony.
Musically now The Wardrobe offers up an assortment of acoustic guitars, ambiance, electronics, neo classical elements, cabaret music, experimentation, and besides that just a lot of weirdness. There isn’t any sort of actual genre classification you can file this under as everything is quite random and unexpected. Vocals are nearly completely absent from the recording with the exception of some narration on the song ‘Lucifer Before Sunrise’ by Helen and Alice Potter who are the daughters of Colin Potter. This particular song is also a cover of sorts as it was originally a song made by Tony and Steven Stapleton several years ago. There are other vocal appearances on the album, but I believe they are just samples, but they may also be Andrew speaking.
Each track definitely has their own identity to them. Some are piano based songs, while others feature ambiance and neo classical sounds merging together, a few are acoustic dirges, but a lot of them are just odd and experimental and probably are closest sounding to Nurse With Wound. The album carries a lot of sentiments too; creepy, ominous, melancholic, silly, and just plain indescribable.
In one hand I’m really enjoying the album, but due to its diversity it really is a tough listen. However there are some very enjoyable moments here and there and I can honestly say I’ll come back to this album from time to time to see if it starts to click into place better.
November 14, 2006
Posted: Friday, September 21, 2007
By: Vlad McNeally
Wakeford and Liles lead one through a distorted Narnia on this journey that is one part neo-classical and two parts experimentalism.In those musical circles that can only be vaguely described as apocalyptic or neo-folk, Tony Wakeford presides like a chairman of the board. Known predominantly for his extensive work as the central force behind Sol Invictus, he has also appeared as an assistant to other such genre luminaries as Current 93 and Death in June over the course of his extensive career. That being said, this release only vaguely touches upon his gloomy, Anglo-centric folk roots. Instead, this collaboration with Andrew Liles, named The Wardrobe, is best compared with his brief past dalliances with the maestro of dark dada music, Nurse With Wound.
A Sandwich Short is less a collection of songs than it is a cinematic journey. It is a sojourn through a gloomy and morose land, a shadowy place where one encounters songs and melodies like fellow wanderers also lost on these same moors. The somber “Wednesday” opens this volume like the white rabbit, tricking the folk-minded listener into following it into down his hole and into the realm of the surreal. Its timbre is deep and its cadence at the speed of an old man considering his mortality on a winter night. In its footsteps dwells the dissonant metallic hum of violins, their off-key peal akin to a concerto tuning up for a performance. While this beginning seems rather straightforward if one’s familiar with Wakeford’s penchant for the dreary, “A Horse with One Leg” abruptly reminds us that this place is not Sol Invictus. It is an off-kilter accordion creature, one that capers about honking and hooting, innocent and toy-like. Yet despite its merriment, there’s a lingering feeling of something less pleasant pulling at its strings. Similar in its sinister whimsy, “In Defence of Shoplifting” sounds like an urgent shopping cart. Its wheels spin and hiss through knots of lint, chugging about its five minute expanse. When it pauses, it is only for a pick-pocketed moment, and in its furtive moments, one can hear the leery pluck and mutter of strings, and the echoing clang of spoons on steel. On the other hand, pieces like “Rural Murders” do not even attempt to hide behind a friendly facade. It buzzes with nerve-tingling falsetto crystals and rings with the tinkle of equally stressed piano as if on the precipice of its own death.
If pining for vocals, there are only a few verbal morsels that Wakeford and Liles throw our way. Originally written for a collaboration between Wakeford and the aforementioned Nurse With Wound, “Lucifer Before Sunrise” appears here resurrected and rewritten. It crackles like embers in a fireplace, while guitar morosely plods through a few somber bass-throated chords. As this fire snaps and chatters, guests Helen and Alice Potter recite the original’s lyrics as if attempting to translate an ancient spell. Eventually, discordant piano intercepts the guitar, silencing it with its own throaty mutter, leaving Tony Wakeford to finally appear and give us a hint of his acclaimed folk ennui. Finally, “Wednesday (Again)” returns to close out this chapter of A Sandwich Short. Offering up a reprise of its partner’s piano and another slender sliver of Wakeford’s voice, this listener was left wishing that Wakeford’s sublime baritone was given a bit more room on this disc.
Though this journey ended up being a more peculiar one than I suspected, A Sandwich Short is still an interesting jaunt through the dark ambient corners of experimentalism. Like Nurse With Wound, one should not expect anything straightforward. There’s still enough of Wakeford’s traditionalist charm to keep it from being a total oddity, but on the other hand, it might not be strange enough for those pining for something truly peculiar. That said, it’s still a worthwhile collaboration, and one that won’t displease fans of either Wakeford’s or Liles’ work.