Alvarius B. - With A Beaker On The Burner And An Otter In The Oven, Vol. 1: Natural Wonder LP


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Label: Abduction

Our Review:

Here donning his Alvarius B. persona, Alan Bishop returns with a trilogy of albums, all recorded from 2014-2017 in Egypt with various members of Cairo's Invisible Hands and the Master Musicians Of Bukakke.

Alan, his brother Richard Bishop and Charlie Goucher were the legendary Sun City Girls - the outsider free-noise / ethno-punk outfit that deliberately confused the unenlightened and frustrated their die-hard fans. In any given set of recordings, glorious melodies and teasingly brilliant psychedelic hooks would erupt with a thousand ideas culled from the world's songbook: Morricone's serpentine drama, John Leyton's murder ballad / pop glory, Trịnh Cong Son's torrid simplicity and Omar Korhseid's non-occidental rock'n'roll passion. Yet at the same time, the Sun City Girls thrived on undermining any given perception as avant-rock geniuses with their impish humor that angrily jabbed with a misanthropic bile. Those who love the Sun City Girls may have come to an understanding to disagree with the politics of these jokes, but there's a recognition that the Girls needed to shove back at polite lefty-liberal society.

Charlie Gocher died in 2007, and the Bishop brothers dissolved the Sun City Girls in honor of their partner. Many of the ideas continue unabated in the Bishop brothers' solo careers. Alan Bishop, especially as Alvarius B., comes the closest to manifesting the panoply of horror and glee found in the Sun City Girls, leading us here to these three volumes of With A Beaker On The Burner And An Otter In The Oven, which are filled suitably filled with a trove of horror and glee.

Across the three albums, Bishop crafts effortless reconstructions of a century's worth of folk-rock-blues idioms through his slack acoustic-guitar splutter. His songs alternate between the sensible and the snarling in varying ratios across the trilogy. It may be true that the first volume is the most "melodic, savvy" of the three as Bishop quipped in his thorny press releases, but his bitter melodic croon persists throughout the trilogy. It may be true that Alan believes the second volume to be his favorite. It may also be true that the final album may be the most problematic of the lot, but when is an Alan Bishop project not problematic? Art should never be easy.

Alvarius B. on With A Beaker On The Burner And An Otter In The Oven, Vol. 1: Natural Wonder:

"Volume One of three new LPs I am releasing simultaneously called Natural Wonder, this is the more melodic, savvy one and you might like it. Maybe I'm lying and it's the innocent, straight record so maybe you should get Volume 3 instead if you're in a darker mood. But that's not really true either. Or maybe it's one of those records that grows on you the more you continue playing it, like a cancer. The musicians who played on all three albums don't deserve to be involved in these kamikaze promotional descriptions so don't blame them for any of this. The modern world of record making has become so fucking dull and obedient that someone has to ram a poison dagger up your asses and since you're all under hypnosis, I promise you won't feel a thing. I could pay Dougie Jones to write this piece to match your intellect or hire a publicity company to promote it but who really gives a fuck? By deciding to write my own album promos, I can perform some market research. For example, this album description text will undoubtedly be copy/pasted by most online retailers onto their respective sites because they don't write their own new album reviews or get too excited about music, they simply want to create the illusion that they're in business to sell records. So I could put something like: Fuck all website retailers that copy/paste this description onto their site because they are too fucking cheap, lazy or chicken shit to have an opinion to write individual album reviews - and they probably wouldn't even notice while doing it (ed. - yes, Alan, we noticed and we copied the press release anyway). Anyway, back to my new album. These songs are pretty good, most likely way better than your songs, and I don't even have time to be a real songwriter, so what does that say about you? It says that you suck. And most of you do. But you should buy my new three album set because it's probably as good or better than any other LPs that will be released this year. But if you aren't ready to go all-in with confidence, then forget it."

One-time pressing. Includes printed inner sleeve with lyrics and credits.