Release Date: Dec 15, 2014
Record label: Melodic
The idea for Music And Words was sketched out (most likely in black inky scribbles) more than seven years ago when David Shrigley worked on the cover art for Malcolm Middleton’s A Brighter Beat. They found that they both shared common ground and creative inspiration; namely “darkness, pathos and despair”. However, what saves this album from being a truly bleak and miserable affair is the pair’s ability to take those driving forces and craft songs that are crude, obscene, unsettling, and above all, curiously amusing.
Those who don’t find foul language entertaining should look away now. There is little on Words and Music – the collaboration between Malcolm Middleton, the erstwhile blond half of Scots duo Arab Strap, and the Turner-nominated visual artist David Shrigley – that isn’t rude, crude or otherwise socially unacceptable. Those with a taste for Malcolm Tucker levels of creative Anglo-Saxon and an Ivor Cutler habit will find much to detain them on this 12-track collaboration – not least The Tree, a bloodthirsty homage, of sorts, to the Scottish poet.
As a result of Turner Prize-nominee and longtime sleeve designer David Shrigley hating his own voice, over the past seven or so years he has sent files back and forth with Malcolm Middleton, formerly of Arab Strap, with a view to releasing a full record utilising the latter’s music (and Shrigley’s friends’ voices). The results are mixed, as many of the artist’s collections of cartoons can be. But at the core is a puerile humour, a filthy tongue and a narrative that usually poses more questions than we’ll ever get answers.
Former Arab Strap man Malcolm Middleton has talked about trying to interpret the grand themes in David Shrigley’s lyrics, only to discover that there were no grand themes intended, and the lyrics were simply about penises and animals defecating on each other. Not to worry, for the engaging, eclectic backdrops Middleton provided – from throbbing electro-punk to delicate acoustic folk – seem like a perfect fit regardless. Turner prize-nominee Shrigley’s misanthropic worldview – murderous cavemen, sadistic houseguests and monkeys eating their offspring are among the topics covered – is present and correct, although not everything here benefits from the surreal linguistic twists of his solo work.