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Further Ellipses / No Man's Land (Re-mastered)

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Album Review

LTM's re-release of the Object Records catalog in 2008 covered most of the major albums on the label, including all the Spherical Objects releases; this disc covers the last two albums by the group before bandleader Steve Solamar shut down the label to concentrate on personal affairs, in particular his transsexuality. Further Ellipses, the band's third album from 1980, found Solamar at his most musically expansive yet under the band name (though some of his work in the Noyes Brothers and elsewhere was even further out). Working with a fluid lineup based around Grow Up guitarist Roger Blackburn, Solamar's songs built on the scrabbled funk and stark rock & roll of the band's earlier work to capture a sense of unstable existence. His idiosyncratic vocals turn out even more so here, flanged on "The Root," simultaneously smoother and spikier on "Mama Tried," while the musical range can be sensed on the flamenco-tinged synth moodout of "The Final Part" and the halfway to jazz fusion guitar soloing on "Moving on the Run" — not to mention the concluding blues of "Set Free." This song sets much of the tone for No Man's Land, the band's final album from 1981, featuring Solamar performing mostly on harmonica when not singing, while songs such as "Cruellest Twist" further explore a steady-as-she-goes blues lope while still sounding very much like Spherical Objects due to, once more, Solamar's singing. If more (intentionally) one note than Further Ellipses it's still a good listen, an intentional farewell to both the band and, in a way, to Solamar himself, as the concluding title track slyly makes clear. At its most fraught, as on the despairing "Memories in Blue," the band's bass-heavy crawl finds a calmly shattered despair that's neither post nor pre-punk — it's almost sui generis, for all the familiarity of the form. The detailed history of the band in the liner notes, with Solamar contributing many thoughts to interviewer Louise Alderman, sheds further light on band, the performer, and the late-'70s Manchester scene as a whole.

Further Ellipses / No Man's Land (Re-mastered), Spherical Objects
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