I Can't Believe It's Not Reggae!
LP / CD- ANKST (Ankst 069 / CD069)
|...spread generously across four sides (but only one on the CD, technophiles!), their debut LP sees the group slipping between concise, melodic pop songs and somewhat less concise sonic explorations with consummate ease, taking in dreamlike pastoral soundscapes, expressionistic post-tonal rock, fish-like 50's cocktail dissonance, intergalactic folk music, 70's NYC art-punk minimalism and repetitive polyrhythmic hypnogrooves along the way, relocating 1996 Wales in a cosmic bubble floating in the ether somewhere between 1971 Germany and 1976 Cleveland, Ohio.
The press said...
Ectogram: I Can't Believe It's Not Reggae! (Ankst)
If anyone's missing a kitchen sink they might spot it somewhere on this record. Insistent, sometimes tuneful stuff (in both Welsh and English) bathed in Valentines guitars, mad harmonium and... well, it's almost mesmerising in places. And I was daft enough to think Gorky's were strange. We live and learn!... 8
(Buzz, August 1996)
Ectogram: I Can't Believe It's Not Reggae! (Ankst/LP/CD)
It had to happen. Having wowed us so spectacularly with Super Furry Animals, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci and their overhauling of glam and prog, it was never going to be long before top Welsh imprint Ankst uncovered yet more native talent, and accordingly, selected another unsuspecting age-old genre they could unleash it on.
This week: Krautrock. Sort of. Your hosts are the crazed dudes of Ectogram; who don't so much carefully subvert Germanic noodlings as break into their local school's music department and run riot with them for ages. And then a bit longer.
This is a colossal tinkle-fest of a debut, which starts out with the rumble of a vacuum cleaner and erupts into a series of open-ended improv jams - including prog-rock monastery chants ("This Is How It Is"), a befuddling bilingual tribute to Syd Barrett ("Syd - who's a bit of a spiritual forefather here) and numerous other instinctively fused organic grooves.
Things - though they're not exactly great - are at least unfamiliar. Wrer you to suggest they were a bit like Mercury Rev as folk-obsessives with a mystic Celtic grandma on vocals, you'd be fairly close. But what Ectogram are up to is continuing a tradition of resourceful and somewhat odd Welsh music; the "in" sound from way, way out... through a valley, up several large hills and into a strange spiritual spot only normally inhabited by a goat, three druids and Julian Cope.
Definately not reggae. (6)
Ectogram: "I Can't Believe It's Not Reggae!" (Ankst)
I first came across this lot when they were support at a gig where I was playing records, and they played a version of exactly the same excerpt from "The Faust Tapes" that I had cued up to follow them. I regarded this as more than mere coincidence. I felt pretty pleased with myself for sussing them out so quickly. This smugness evaporated after a couple of infuriatingly eclectic singles which wouldn't let me decide if they were a grown-up Gorky's or just funny-felt-hat, street-theatre eccentrics.
"I Can't Believe It's Not Reggae!" doesn't help at all. In some ways, it's closer to the sources it shares with "Bwyd Time" - the way everyone still refuses to own up to liking Hawkwind is enough to make me want to dig out a copy of "X In Search Of Space" and beat Stereolab and the Gorky's over the head with it. Ectogram would gladly lend me theirs. But in others it's closer to the quirky sranger charm of Lazerboy.
Close, then. But put those cigars away. There's still enough mimsy whimsy to keep them in the borogrooves. The only bands that could do a worthwhile tribute to Syd Barrett are Motorhead and Snoop Doggy Dogg. De-contextualise an icon and you can see it afresh. On an Ectogram record it gives off the cabbage stink of the expected, even if the slide guitar does make it sound like the Sixties Magic Band produced by Lee Hazelwood. Hey, that's pretty good actually. I can't believe I sound like I don't like this record. Check back Buddah!
(Mark Luffman, Melody Maker, 27.07.96)
ECTOGRAM: I Can't Believe It's Not Reggae Ankst, cd069
This has been a groovy summer musically, if for no other reason than mine and the rest of the world's discovery of the Welsh brand of weird and wacky pop. Perhaps the oddest of the lot, Ectogram share a lot in common with Pram, but where Pram draw their inspiration from German innovators like Can and Neu, Ectogram are a little closer to home and often times find themselves wrapped in a nebulous ball of indie skree and thrilling noise. The vocals are split between Welsh and English and are mostly sung by Ann Matthews. Some guy helps (not all that impressively) on a few songs. Anything goes on this album, should be great for parties. Especially interesting might be an attempt to extrapolate the meanings of the Welsh song titles like "Ebargofiant" and "Gwagle." One hint in conclusion, it might be a good idea to skip the second song as it is a bizarre, kinda useless gothish number.
(Keith McLachlan, Twee Kitten)
Ectogram: "I Can't Believe It's Not Reggae!" (Ankst)
Here is another title that tells all the contrary."I Can't Believe It's Not Reggae!" sugest us the Ectogram. And in fact this debut album for the gaelic band is all less than a reggae album. This important first workfor one of the elves of pop arrives on the wave of the new gaelic scenethat has carried the light some bands among the best in circulation (Super Furry Animals, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, 60ft Dolls, Catatonia). To difference of the Super Furry Animals, decidedly nearer to the concept of pop/punk and rock, the Ectogram have a preference for the ground of Gorky's Zygotic Mynci (kraut-rock and similar). If their more immediate references stay Faust and Stereolab (the sung is female) it's not been able to doing without notice the tribute paid to the iconoclast genius of the great Frank Zappa.
Rockerilla (Italy), Oct 1996)
Last, and perhaps even most, Ectogram's "I Can't Believe It's Not Reggae!" (ankst) inspires mingled awe and confusion. Reggae is just about the only thing that this intimidating Krautrock/folk crossover landmark definately isn't: this is the sort of record the early Raincoats might have made if they'd known how to play thair instruments.
(Mojo, Sept 1996)
ECTOGRAM 'I Can't Believe It's Not Reggae' LP (Ankst 069).
Lo-fi Welsh Psych-Krautrock masterpiece. The album's first track 'Ebargofiant' kicks in with an electric screwdriver! One of the highlights on the album is the Neu! Like groover 'Rapier'. A slab of psych is well evident in 'Meindlos' and 'Indented' whilst 'Syd' from the 'Spoonicon' EP is a catchy poppy little number. At times though certain tracks seem to get a little clustered within it's own sound when it could remain more minimalistic!. This is evident on 'Stellar' which is chaotically unjointed! However all in all a very good album indeed. (Wig Out, Oct 1996