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Album Review

The problem with the whole "freak folk" movement is that far too many of its practitioners are clearly trying way too hard to be freaky: true eccentricity cannot be forced. And then you have Kevin Cormack, who is clearly, to use Frank Zappa's memorable phrase, "freaky right down to his toenails." Cormack hails from rural Scotland — the Orkney Islands, to be precise — and he sings with the most unapologetic Scottish burr heard on record since Ivor Cutler passed away, which is coupled with a guilelessly sweet pop tenor croon in the manner of Scritti Politti's Green Gartside or, no kidding, vintage '70s Michael Jackson. Underneath that compelling vocal style, the songs are an intriguingly odd blend of rustic folk, vintage electronics, and rhythmic sounds recorded with improvised, non-musical instruments made out of household objects. Fellow Scots the Beta Band are an obvious touchstone, but Iodine is both stranger and more accessible than their sprawling, twisted take on pop. For all the odd noises leaking around the edges of songs like the opening "Big Chief (The B&B Frequenter)," that song's main hook is instantly catchy, even if it's being doubled by a clarinet and an accordion. That a song as gentle and lovely as the acoustic reverie "Abide" can remain simply heartbreaking in spite of the casual surrealism of its lyrics, and can sit comfortably next to the impressively weird, warped soundscapes of "Police Torch," which sounds as if its arrangement is built on samples of thin metal sheets being wobbled about, it's clear that Cormack is some kind of twisted pop genius. Iodine is an instantly compelling record and a surefire cult favorite waiting to be discovered by its cult.

Customer Reviews

Baby Gems

This collision of unboxable tunes is fresh. The Absentee, Home Help have something of the Ivo Cutler invention coupled with the Island Days of Richard Thompson. Kevin's a pocketful of goodies and suprising to boot. Charity is a beauty too. The Scots have a scene going that makes dan south look drab. You know not where these gems take you.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Kevin Cormack and Jimmy Hogarth’s initial attempts at music-making were apparently intended to circumvent the over-bearing impact that bands such as Deep Purple, Rainbow and Iron Maiden had had on their fellow inhabitants of the Orkneys Islands in Scotland. Rather, the duo (subsequently augmented by two members of Joe Strummer’s Mescelaros, for live happenings) forged ‘short melodic songs from junk’, decorating guitar and piano parts with recycled and discarded objects and instruments, an inventory...
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Iodine, Half Cousin
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