I’ve never ever ever watched a 70’s porno but if I had I imagine (stressing again here that I haven’t) that the opening track of Inji, LA Priest’s debut album would provide a rather suitable soundtrack to whatever it it 70’s porn stars might get up to. ‘Occasion’ is musical filth that even Prince himself might think twice about committing to record. Oh, and it’s excellent. At nearly five minutes long it’s just the right …. no, let’s not go there.
‘Lady’s In Trouble With the Law’ is the title of track 2 suggesting that the theme may be prolonged but this is a disco tinged, bassy synth infused pop song with slick vocals. There’s variety throughout the album but the one uniting element is creativity; this is an album full to the brim with ideas, most of which work.
There’s great song titles too; apart from the aforementioned track 2, the following ‘Gene Washes With New Arm’ is another example but sadly one of the very few whose title raises hopes a little higher than the song can match, this being a somewhat dour instrumental that never really goes anywhere. There are a few moments like that on Inji; moments when you can help feel that a little bit of self indulgence has crept in. I suppose when you’re trying to push the creative boundaries it’s hard to recognise where/when to stop before invention overcomes musicality. Sam Dust is the man behing LA Priest and he spent a while touring as guitarist with Connan Mockasin whose output could be similarly critiqued.
‘Oino’ is the album’s lead single and perhaps its most immediate track boasting a rattling beat, a great melody and a pretty decent guitar lick around the halfway point. It nods in the direction of the 1980’s 12′ remixes with a solo percussion section ushering in the final fifth minute.
Oino by LA Priest
At over eight minutes track 5, ‘Party Zute/Learning To Love’ is as the song title suggests a game of two halves. Zute brings the party, albeit with a muffled beat conjuring up feelings of a party that has run its course and left you feeling disoriented. The second part boasts a club beat and electro vocals – imagine Daft Punk covering Shalamar and you won’t be far off the mark. As the album’s focal point it represents all that’s good and bad about Inji. It’s full of invention whilst also reminiscent of earlier classics but it does rather overstay its welcome, the final minute or so being a superfluous instrumental electro-noodling outro.
‘Lorry Park’ is a short instrumental using vocal loops to create a woozy cacophony of sound and it works, largely because it knows when to stop. A case of invention not spoiled by self indulgence.
Another instrumental going by the name ‘Fabby’ is my favourite song on the album. A beautifully simple repeat piano melody is wrapped in futuristic percussion. It’s hypnotic and if tracks were individually arranged in a record collection this one would sit alongside ‘Merry Xmas Mr. Lawrence’ by Ryuichi Sakamoto.
Penultimate track ‘A Good Sign’ is another that contains a schizophrenic identity, beginning rather tamely and with a meek apologetic vocal before asserting itself with a deep, funky and stuttering bass synth returning us to that 70’s porno film.
The album closer ‘Mountain’ finds Dust stretching his vocals into high falsetto over a pleasant staccato synth with the singer pontificating on love. It’s kind of cute and a gentle way to end, like a sonic warm down after an exhilarating musical work-out.
There’s a little bit too much flab on this album for it to lay claim to being the years best but it’s certainly a very interesting and promising debut that will feature in many of those end of the year lists come December.
Reviewer: Russell Poad