Exposé Online banner

Cardiacs — Some Fairytales from the Rotten Shed
(Alphabet ALPH DVD 002, 2003/2017, DVD)

by Mike McLatchey, Published 2017-11-16

Some Fairytales from the Rotten Shed Cover art

I had heard a few early Cardiacs albums before I came across a rather shaky video of the Surbitan Assembly Rooms 4/18/85 show. This was the trigger moment for me, I mean it was obvious from Sing to God that this was a talented band with an original vision, but the show introduced me to their history. You're left to describe the sound and impressions afterwards, all of which describe a series of contrasts: the tricky stops and starts of complex progressive rock with the manic energy of punk, the feel of epic symphonic music with the pogoing songwriting of the best anthems, the almost claustrophobic tension with the strangest of humor — everything about the Cardiacs seems to be about magical collision. And the show made me a fan even though I was practically squinting at times to see what was going on.

The Cardiacs have released what is part rehearsal video but also part art installment. Some Fairytales from the Rotten Shed was their last line up, the two-guitar quartet that recorded The Special Garage Concerts CD, which was essentially the band going back to their earliest material, a period of music mostly written a few years prior to the Surbitan Assembly Rooms show. There is a lot of crossover between the live shows and this rehearsal video, but as always with the Cardiacs, there is something magical about what happens when you get the visuals. Not only are you introduced to one of the tightest bands on the planet, a machine driven by the almost insanely paced drumming of Bob Leith, but you are also privy to what can only be described as somewhere in the middle of documentary, satire, and play. Tim Smith yells "Jim!" multiple times through several songs. Jim sits in a chair in just in briefs, seemingly fighting off a cymbal half the set. During one moment the band waits patiently as he slowly attempts to replace the cord back into the bass, a farce that gets more tense and more hilarious as it seems to go on for minutes. Between songs, sometimes during songs, various voices shout as if they are inner insecurities coming to life. Kavus Torabi hilariously considers his later addition to the line up. Jim Smith is interviewed interstially in some bizarre uniform. Tim Smith erupts into screaming or muttering at times. Conversations break out, both about the songs while acting as parts of them. It's all the way down the rabbit hole and it is impossible to look away.

All of it of course is tied down by manically energetic playing. Riffs start and stop and spike, sometimes racing off at breakneck speed, songs often end when you least expect them, almost giving the illusion that it's all a sloppy mess when it's really the opposite. Tim Smith leads the vocals, but Kavus and Jim will join in to sing the anthems, and then later they will mesh different lyrical lines to incredible effect. The absolute jagged and manic nature of the propulsion gives the impression of a train going off the rails even though it never quite does. All of it is just so tremendously exciting you can't even wait to see what the band will all do next. It all seems to end as their manager is on the phone outside the claustrophically small little building the band is crammed in, making noise and yelling incomprehensibly. Don't be surprised if you realize you had been gripping some piece of furniture. Stunning just doesn't tell the half of it.


Filed under: New releases, 2017 releases, 2003 recordings

Related artist(s): Cardiacs

More info
http://abc-mary.myshopify.com/products/some-fairytales-from-the-rotten-shed-dvd

Latest news

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Step Ahead - Step Ahead – Step Ahead was one of France's best symphonic bands and this, their only release, was a quite a rarity, not only in availability but also in quality. In the early eighties, few bands kept the...  (1993) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues