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CURSED
:: The Scaramanga Six ::
30 April 2011 / Wrath / 12 Trk CD & Download
By Jon Ashley

If you can cast your minds back a few years to the release of Scaramanga’s “Walking Through Houses”, the tale behind “Cursed” begins to unfold. Originally started as a project with Tim Smith (Cardiacs) under the banner of “A Pound Of Flesh”, the original (and by then complete but unmixed) recordings had to be abandoned on Smith’s estate as a result of his very serious illness (a debilitating stroke – see tribute and fundraising link below).

Whilst the album was put on hold, the band released the already(simultaneously) completed “The Dance of Death” and latterly, the remarkable “Songs of Prey”. Albums of quality are rarely a problem for The Scaramanga Six and as something of a tribute and for completeness, they decided to take the ‘lost’ album's tracklisting into the studio with Alan Smyth, for a song by song remake. Whilst it’s missing the important infusion of Smith’s dark art, the band have enough of their own musical black magic, as has Smyth, to propel their sixth album as a worthy contender for anyone’s album of the year. Just feel the writhing, scratching intro and satisfying bass growl of “Damned If You Don’t, Damned If You Do” – like all the tracks here the skilled pop infusions and progressive nuances complete a perfect recipe. “Walking Through Houses” is neither enhanced or diminished, it just remains different, gripping ; the vocals hammer their narratives home with a cinematic conviction and pure rock drama. Their long standing punk sensibility hasn’t been lost on them either with “Trouble” (and later on in the proceedings via the catchy and impossibly addictive “The Repo Man”). This all makes a valiant effort to blow up your speakers – let’s not forget their sense of the theatrical on an instrumental that is aptly titled “Dark Matter”.

Again, most Scaramanga albums are peppered with interesting and intriguing tracks, bucking and snarling up any senses of convention, whilst simultaneously bowling over the senses. You’ll find that effect on “I Can See A Murder” but throughout, The Scaramanga Six flex their prog muscles in amongst the mix. They finish on the Bowie-esque “Spent Force”, which breaks open any remaining clouds to reveal some final, blinding rays of sunshine. Another superb Yorkshire broadcast...


MMMM ½


Resources:
The Scaramanga Six
Wrath Records
Leader Of The Starry Skies - A Tribute To Tim Smith. Songbook 1

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