Black Carrot - Milking Scarabs For Dough (Tin Angel)

It ain’t pretty but it’s memorable, like the aural equivalent of gurning

Released Jun 25th, 2010 via Tin Angel / By Norman Miller
Black Carrot - Milking Scarabs For Dough (Tin Angel) While Black Carrot have expanded to a sextet for this third album, the simpler sonic palette harks back more to their 2003 debut Cluk than 2008’s justly acclaimed Drink The Black Forest, whose diversity managed to reference Arabic and Elizabethan sounds and a whole lot more without blinking.

The last album’s quintet - Oliver Betts, Stewart Brackley, Tom Betts, Euan Rodger and Olly Warren - are here joined by Nigel Parkin, but the overall sound still pretty much fits the description I used for their last album of 'Captain Beefheart meets Krautrock jazz'. Other nods include Faust and Pere Ubu - and in terms of uncompromising vocal style, the great Peter Hammill.

Avant dissonance and growling, gruff Beefheart vocals dominate over any free-form noodling. The songs are often more stripped back than before, and on tracks like 'No-One Sings Songs For Guilty Men' and the clackity off-kilter 'Onomatopoeia' it almost seems as if the emphasis is more about ’performance’ than any particular attempt at being musical. It ain’t pretty but it’s memorable, like the aural equivalent of gurning.

That’s not to say the album lacks finesse. There’s genuine beauty in the blend of loose-limbed guitar and quavering vocal on the title-track and the pretty piano motifs on 'The Queen of Protest', as well as the jazzy keyboard running through 'Cardboard Soup' - a song that otherwise sounds like a jokey Tom Waits.

Other highlights include the sprightly declamatory stomp of 'The One That Got Away' and almost mainstream sounding of 'Blackmail' with its insistent niggling hooks.

The overall quality, though, varies more than the last album. The album sags a little particularly in the middle where tracks like 'The Hush Hour', 'The Detonation Tonight Will Be S-Ray-20' and 'Magnets' sound a bit like going through the motions.

But Black Carrot’s uncompromising desire to sound distinctive has to be applauded.