Like any one-man-bander with limitless ambitions, but limited resources, Amateur Cult makes the most of what’s available. Taking inspiration from a spectrum of perfectionist tinkerers – Boards of Canada, Björk, Adam Curtis – he has created something that moves endlessly, jumping from one experiment to the next.
After a kooky synth intro, ‘You Be You’ hoodwinks the listener into thinking this is going to be a solid, but not exactly exploratory album. It’s great bedroom-pop, with beats and some loose crooning, nicely defined with trumpet from Harry Martin.
But it turns out to be a bit of an outlier as the jagged, moody sound of ‘The Ritual’ is more representative of the record as a whole. ‘Ashes’ has a dälek-lite feel to it: despite solid rapping/writing from TH!NK, the arrangement doesn’t feel intense enough to match the apocalyptic themes.
From here we’re introduced to the running theme of the back half – warped keys and drums, offset with video-game soundtrack feels. The intro springs back to mind and later ‘Final Battle With The Boss’ completes the thread (fittingly, given the title).
‘Everything Will Be OK’ is another interlude that aims for BoC electronic haze, but it’s a little too restless. The haunting Pagan choir, NAIRN, pop up during ‘Sigh With The Sea’ to make sure you’re suitably unsettled. Just in case the repeated refrain “we bury what they find” wasn’t enough. (See also: the DIY sorcery of ‘The Ritual’s video, above).
There’s more than a few great tracks here, all held together by arrangements that can be full of stark atmospherics (‘Fire and Full’), easygoing beats (‘You Be You’) or even something akin to chiptune (‘Final Battle With The Boss’).
Also, there’s a manic energy reminiscent of John Maus – another perfectionist tinkerer – but the scattershot approach holds it back from being truly fantastic. But as an indication of what this talent is capable of, it’s a treasure chest of potential.
More at www.amateurcult.co.uk.