Exposé Online banner

The Kettering Vampires — Perform Nico & the Velvet Underground
(Cordelia Records CD063, 2015, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2015-11-15

Perform Nico & the Velvet Underground Cover art

Everybody knows the story of the Velvet Underground, one of the quintessential examples of a band that got minimal attention in its own time, but achieved legendary status after breaking up. Many of their songs have become staples for covers by other artists – “There She Goes Again,” “I’ll Be Your Mirror,” “All Tomorrow’s Parties,” “Venus in Furs,” all have become standards of the rock repertoire. But devoting an entire album to them, and in fact to a re-envisioning of The Velvet Underground & Nico, putting them into the context of instrumental surf music, that’s a new one. After the wide range of Considerably Further from the Sea, I shouldn’t be surprised at how well these things can work, and The Kettering Vampires and producer Alan Jenkins have assembled a great set of music here. It starts off with “European Son” done with a twangy guitar taking the lead – in other words, more or less classic surf style. But from there on out, things wander further astray from that base. “The Black Angel’s Death Song” is a short, moody keyboard feature with organ and Mellotron augmented by some crazy R2-D2 synthesizer noises. A number of places utilize unconventional sounds – given the way the credits are written, it’s hard to know what’s real and what’s not, but quite a few “prepared” instruments are listed (as well as “ostrich” versions of instruments). “Run Run Run” adds a horn section as well as an interlude of free playing by what must be prepared guitar. The album’s centerpiece is a 15-minute take on “Heroin.” It starts very quietly, with a droning organ notes that fade in very slowly over the course of the first three minutes before slipping into the song’s chords. At about the five minute mark, drums and bass sneak in, and it really starts to sound like “Heroin.” Eventually, feedback and chaos threaten to swamp the insistent two-chord vamp. This is a minimalist exercise that would make a Krautrock band proud. Quite often, it is the inventive keyboard work that makes the tracks work, from Mellotron and various types of organ to synthesizers, and (I’d swear) some toy instruments as well. This is not the context where you expect to hear a ‘Tron, and it works well. In addition to the quality of the music, Jenkins’ liner notes are a hoot, a surreal, rambling story about how he came to produce this music. Another winner from Cordelia!


Filed under: New releases, 2015 releases

Related artist(s): The Kettering Vampires

Latest news

2017-11-16
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more

2017-11-02
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Cartoon - Sortie – The end of the 70s and first years of the 80s were a defining time in the history of progressive rock. The dinosaurs that had dominated throughout the first half of the 70s were rapidly becoming a...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues