Dark Breakbeat Cabaret
Fourteen years is a long time in dance music and most people will only remember Finitribe for their Unexpected Groovy Treat album back in 1991 with its singles 101, Ace Love Deuce and Forevergreen each with excellent remixes from Andy Weatherall and 80 State’s Graeme Massey. Before 1991 Finitribe were an industrial type of band with their first vocalist leaving to join Ministry in 1988; and since 1991 Finitribe seemed to disappear into the quagmire of UK house – their Sheigra album on London Records passing without much notice. Now in 1998 Finitribe have pared down to two members working with guests and have released a new album, Sleazy Listening, with producer John Roome, better known as The Witchman, which sees them veering off towards dark soundtrack-style epics over spooky varispeed breakbeats. The vocals, too, have changed being more gloomy stream-of-consciousness flows sometimes echoing the work of mid-80s Wire offshoot, He Said. Needless to say, the most interesting tracks on the album are those without lyrics. Newly recruited vocalist Katy Morrison and David Miller spoke to me in the middle of their tour.
"We’re at the end of the tour now and we have a few weeks off before we join the Stereo MCs and then its on to Glastonbury . . . . our live show is very ‘live’ – drums, bass, violins, keyboards – but its more weird cabaret than rock’n’roll though. Its so much more enjoyable having something to do when you’re performing rather than just standing behind a bank of keyboards which is what we did when we toured Unexpected Groovy Treat, and its giving people their money’s worth because sometimes you’d feel that then it would have been better to have just put on the CD and left it playing."
Because the new album is rather diverse and steers away from ‘upfront’ club numbers venues and crowds have varied wildly; "recently we played a chilled Sunday afternoon set in the dining room of club with people eating their dinner and then the night before we played a totally different set in the ICA in London surrounded by tense people all stroking their chins and before that to a mad nutter club crowd in a cellar in Liverpool . . . . actually we’d really love to play on an ocean liner sailing all the way to Australia – Katy can do her jazz classics set and then Dave and Phil can do their ‘grumpy bastard‘ set and sit around smoking cigars".
Full of soundtrack moments, Sleazy Listening echoes a lot of the solo work of its producer/mixer John Roome. Working as The Witchman, Roome has released a series of 12"s and an album on London label Deviant. "John’s a mate and he wanted to come up and help us with what we do but he left us to do what we wanted and mixed the final result – a collaboration is probably the best of way of putting it . . . . . he’s now working with the Orb and writing his new album which will feature Toni Halliday from The Curve"
David explains the future plans, "We’ve been working on soundtracks and we’ve just be contracted to do the sounds for a horror movie in America called Sabre which is about this cartoon character that goes around chopping people’s heads off", "Its perfect" chimes in Katy.
Sleazy Listening and its singles Frantic and Mind Your Make-Up, each with a swag of remixes, are released on Infectious and are being distributed by MDS.
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