- Put record on
- Stop when record finishes
- Check spelling (not necessarily in 100% of cases)
- Check sense made (this one might actually be a massive lie)
It’s a system that has served me fairly well for a year and a half, and I’m not sure if I can do it any other way (especially the Wine bit, I insist upon that), as if I’m not listening to something then it’s hard to put into words what I feel about it. Short records mean either lots of repetition (which can wear down the appeal of them) or very fast typing (which is a bit of a strain on both fingers). Nevertheless, I’m always willing to have a go, albeit under the guise of a very long preamble to get the wordcount up before I actually start…
Microdot Gnome is one Gary Lee Conner, once a part (along with his brother Van, whose Strange Earth Records this single appears on) of the Screaming Trees, a band fondly regarded in this parish. The Trees are probably better remembered on record as a slightly psychedelic pop-tinged alternative rock outfit as exemplified on their last (while they were still together) two albums Sweet Oblivion and Dust, but prior to this the band were purveyors of a more spaced-out indie sound before Change Has Come began their evolution into their more familiar guise; Invisible Lantern in particular being a constant favourite of mine. So it’s very pleasant to hear Gary slightly returning to this earlier era of his own musical journey in order to move forward, following on nicely from his self-released 4D Sugarcubes of last year.
Starting off with Low Flying Birds, it’s a not wholly-unfamiliar sound that greets these ears but not without its surprises; the riffing and unmistakable lead melodies touch happily on the poppier end of the early Screaming Trees canon, but the extra layers of mellotron and brass take the song closer to the Summer of Love than, say, Even If and Especially When’s grimier, sparser garage sound. There are little bits here and there to bring to mind other eras of his previous band and there’s a feeling throughout that, just as with other members’ later output, this is the absolute essence of what Gary brought to the Screaming Trees, distilled here in this four minutes of utter fun and indulgence into his influences and output over the years.
The flipside is altogether more intriguing. The title Julian Hades, before even listening for the first time, put me in mind of a certain other band, and this was confirmed from the off. This song is pure Syd-era Pink Floyd, all pastoral melodies and dreamlike structure complete with baffling noisy interlude and ascendant ending.
All in all, it’s a great single with two songs that both contrast and compliment each other in the way that 7″s used to do in the good old days. As all writing/performing/producing chores are all undertaken by the one guy (which, along with the end-product, puts me in mind of Matt Berry’s work), I hope it’s not too long before another long-player is forthcoming.
More info etc can be found at Strange Earth Records.