The Review of “Sing To God” (parts 1 & 2)
from Organ (Issue 47) UK
Cardiacs have certainly evolved over the years, but like any growing plant or critter you can only appreciate the changes having been away for a while. Cardiacs is, after all, largely outpourings of one person, Tim “one-off” Smith, the last person to remain stuck in some mental/artistic doldrum between albums.
There’s been a big gap between albums, however, due to Rough Trade going bust the week Heaven Born And Ever Bright was released, leaving the band thousands in debt due to the album being impossible to find in the shops. Many other bands would have packed in… The Organ put on a couple of gigs that proved that their huge underground audience would still fill places like The Venue, and when Tim said he had a hundred songs written despite all we put three of them out on Org as the Bellyeye ep…
Tim had a “Pop song” project he called Oceanland World, plus the gentler, stranger, lyrical Sea Nymphs and manic hyperspeed thrash of Panixphere (with Bic and Francolini from Levitation and Dark Star); tracks from all three projects have ended up on this new album, Sing To God parts 1&2, which accounts for some of the breadth of style here. Sing To God is massive, there’s four years of creativity from Tim in here and at least one whole song from young Jon Poole, but don’t expect Topographic Oceans – there’s several pure (ok, maybe a bit twisted/epic) pop songs here, plus Sea Nymphs style atmospherics. There’s also a whole bunch of things I’ve never heard before from Cardiacs, such as the searing synth on the soul-wrenching Foundling. As for the title: has Tim Smith gone all religious? Well, the only reference to Jesus I’ve heard so far is in a song entitled Dirty Boy, so if it is, Jim, it’s not as we know it…
As for describing Cardiacs to all you out there who’ve never heard them… well. Cardiacs mean so many different things to different people because there’s so much in them; one Cardiacs track can contain enough ideas for most other band’s careers. I’ve heard them compared to every band under the sun that’s vaguely rock based but you couldn’t say they sound just like any single one… right now, I’m reminded of some of the more experimental bits of Beatles, but Fiery Gun Hand is a pure driving unrelenting punk tornado… with a burst of Zappa out of nowhere… instant crowd converter during their recent Chumbawumba support… Production is bitingly sharp and cutting, fleshed with the layers and layers of detail that is part of Cardiacs’ intensity. Their manic side, which many casual listeners think is some kind of joke, is nothing less than an extension of Tim Smith’s remarkable nervous energy and is completely for real… the flip side, the other extreme, lies in the bursts of almost painful emotion, the big spiralling progressions that lift the listener higher and higher – Dirty Boy does it, it may be Cardiacs most intense thing yet…
Twenty-two tracks (including a revamp of Nurses Whispering Verses and one that sounds suspiciously like Faust), with a very English Eraserhead sort of atmospheric episode featuring a voice I know only from phone calls to be Tim and Jim’s amazing Mum… Much of Sing To God may well be more accessible to those who couldn’t handle Cardiacs’ previous intensity, but don’t worry – Dog Like Sparky, Fiery Gun Hand and Angleworm The Angel made for some outrageous moshpits on tour, whilst the emotional highs and aural acrobatics are there to delight those of us who like to play an album 1000 times without boredom, and infuriate lovers of easy background musak… Most of all, it has evolved. Cardiacs are still fresh – yet still uniquely and unstoppably Cardiacs.
Sing To God comes out as a limited edition of 3000 in a double CD package… from then on the two albums will be available separately
SING TO GOD
The Review of “Sing To God Pts. I and II”
In the end of the 70’s, in the midst of post-prog/pre-new wave musical chaos, a band of mutants called CARDIAC ARREST was born. This was around the small period of time in which bands like these actually got to some attention. Beautiful hybrids such as FAMILY FODDER, PUNISHMENT OF LUXURY, THE RAINCOATS, DEVO etc released a couple of records and then disappeared (or started playing disco!). The CARDIACS kept at it, working in obscurity, releasing the odd tape album every now and then.
Not until the mid 80’s did they start to release proper platters on their very own label, Alphabet Business Concern. Their little musical island had for some reason broken off from the continent of Mainstream & mediocre and on this island their songs has developed on their own without any contamination from the outside world. They are far from dinosaurs though. They’re the musical equivalent of what dinosaurs would look like today after millions of years of development. These critters are like nothing you’ve ever seen or heard. Some scatter about on what seem to be a million pairs of legs, some fly in beautiful formations, others move in ways you’ve never imagined (or swim like fish in the pond, always looking out for the big ugly shark!).
In 1996 they released the double CD “Sing To God”, by many (myself included) considered one of the finest moments in Cardiac history. More original and dynamic than ever before they mix their classic Cardiacesque, HUGE orchesteral hamonies (Power Metal-fans take notice!) with delicate pop, fast rocking and furious, at times almost NAKED CITYish jazz structures. To add yet another dimension to their music, they experiment with sound and production in a way we haven’t heard since the haydays of PSYCHIC TV, or even the old “kraut” bands like FAUST, NEU, CAN etc… All in all, CARDIACS can be considered the spirit of musical innovation and independence bandified. One could keep on ranting about them for pages and pages (I think I’ll write a book…) but like the late Frank Zappa put it: “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture..”.
SING TO GOD
Reviewer: Peterdc from Londinium.
Now, the UK music scene tends to lead the world. The odd thing is that Cardiacs are pretty much behind it all, like a lump in the carpet that won’t go away. I reckon this is the best stuff they’ve done, better than Guns, the following album. So, you say, you must be a fool of the highest order, sir. And I readily counter with these notions…
‘Dog Like Sparky’ is a song of such depth and outright peculiarnessness that it’ll never ever be beaten: A mix of Alan Price, Frank Zappa, Cats, SoundGarden, NIN, and (insert your artist here).
I can’t begin to describe the rest of the CD. Or rather I couldn’t finish.
Cardiacs played the Astoria last Saturday (big London gig, Nov 2000) and packed the place. They make an effort not to do the ‘misic biz’, and so, for the people who DO do it, they remain the inspiration. I should mention Blur at this point relative to that bit.
Irreverent, intelligent, funny, monster guitars, astonishing musicianship, a television-organ, an obsession with doggies. You don’t know popular music until you’ve had your head bent by Cardiacs. And this CD does it more than any other. It can’t be catagorized.
There’s even some thrash metal with a cheesy organ in it (the television organ?). Gotta love em, eh?
6 stars out of 5.
SING TO GOD
Reviewer: Adam Holden, England
The mighty cardiacs have audibly proved that like cheese they improve with age. unfortunately, however, it seems that the british music press prefer ham in their sarnies. but who needs them, the cardiacs have certainly shown that they don’t.
Sing to god is jam packed with holy holy wholesome goodness. if songs such manhoo or doglike sparky fail to make the hairs stand up on the back of your cat then you obviously arent brave enough to venture outside of the evil top 40. For those of us however who feel the need to endeavour into the more obscure in search of something undiscribable, then my friends you may stop searching. just remember to buy two because CDs wair out when they’re played 24 hours a day.
THEY ARE WORTHY OF LAUDATION!
SING TO GOD
Avant-garde rockers in accessible pop shocker!!
If any of your drinking friends are into the more obvious flag wavers of new wave and/or brit-pop, then this should be the Cardiacs CD that you play to them in the vain hope of winning them over. Whilst maintaining the usual air of ‘anything can happen’ (unpredictable tempo changes mid-song, nonsensical lyrics, use of a ‘television organ’, etc), there does seem to be a constant run of songs that you can actually whistle along to. Whimsical song titles like ‘Flap Off You Beak’ and ‘Bell Clinks’ hide a more refined pop sensebility than we come to expect from these veteran arthouse weirdoes.