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I Can't Believe It's Not Reggae! (Live)


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Album Review

Building on its initial string of singles with infectious energy and style, Ectogram fully hit the album-length ground running with this hilariously titled effort, which in fact has no obvious reggae influences to its name. Not that Lee Perry wouldn't approve of the various studio-tweaking efforts the band puts in, thanks to its co-production skills along with Wales' own boardsman of legend, Gorwel Owen, who contributes a bit of guest playing here and there. For the most part, though, it's the three bandmembers going all out, playing everything from signal generation and power tools to electric screwdriver, not to mention Holmes' specific credit for "monk vocals" on tracks where Gregorian-styled chanting appears, as on "This Is How It Is." Ann Matthews takes command of the lead singing with skill to burn, right from the post-shoegaze crunch and charge of opening cut "Ebargiofiant." Even if one doesn't know Welsh, there's no denying her abilities with her high but never weak or shrill vocals, sometimes softly speak-singing and otherwise in full flight. As for her guitar work, she and Alan Holmes make for a great team, as able to exchange Sonic Youth-styled noise fests as drony psychedelic queasiness, while Maeyc Hewitt creates a merry percussion din track for track, hitting Krautrock grooves on the mark more than once. The varying additional instruments and touches fill out without overwhelming the mix in gimmickry, touching on humorous conclusions as much as mind-melting freak-outs as it goes, the latter especially on "Stellar." The blazing guitar rips on "Rapier" and moody explorations on "Meindlos" also capture both ends of the band at its nicely freaky best. Ectogram's music would have slipped in well enough on many play lists and in crash pads in 1969, perhaps, but there's something lively and fun about I Can't Believe that makes it less revivalist than might be thought.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Part of the thriving underground Welsh rock music scene that gained international attention in the 1990s, Ectogram stands out as one of the best groups from that fertile musical ground. This is thanks to the sheer inventiveness and abilities of its three members, guitarist/vocalist Ann Matthews, guitarist Alan Holmes, and drummer Maeyc Hewitt, each of whom plays a variety of instruments on the group's varied studio recordings. Based out of the Bangor area of North Wales, its members played in a variety...
Full bio
I Can't Believe It's Not Reggae! (Live), Ectogram
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