Swayne - vocals, guitar, bass, accordion, piano, misc.
Steve Gullick - vocals, guitar, misc.
James Johnston - vocals, guitar, organ, violin, harmonica, misc.
cramped rooms in East London and a menagerie of piled equipment.
Insomnia, honesty, confession and desperation trail every note and
sound on this odd and extraordinary album.
Imagine Tonight's The Night era Neil Young voicing the disquiet
that tumbles at the heart of Sonic Youth's Bad Moon Rising,
the stark folk of Johnny Cash's American recordings, and the most
damaged and haunted of Big Star for sonic cartography. ...Bender
treat these as their launchpad and proceed to lead you in all manner
of unexpected but powerful and poignant directions.
There may not
be a storm-tossed ship on the cover of this latest self-titled LP,
but much of the turbulent nightscape of ...Bender's preceeding album
Run Aground lingers. The structure of the material however,
is this time far more direct. These beautiful and unsettling songs
are about the rarely expressed sentiments and insights that inform
our lives and loves, set to an unadorned and chilling musical background.
... Bender are Geraldine Swayne, Bad Seed and Gallon Drunk frontman
James Johnston, and photographer Steve Gullick. They share and swap
traditional, electric and unconventional instruments, sometimes
playing them straight, and sometimes rendering them unrecognisable.
The sensibitlity is that desire should not be hindered by mere technique.
lingers like freezing fog clinging to the album's every bough, and
lending the edge to every silence. It's the vocals that speak clearly,
sparely and barely. Apologies, regrets, paranoia. Questions that
sorely beg reply, but can never be answered satisfactorily. Call
it folk art, call it outsider protest, call it potent and brooding
country relocated for the urban/industrial sprawl. Like all home
truths this sometimes makes uncomfortable listening..but that doesn't
mean it doesn't feel good, because it does. Very good.
© Steve Gullick 2004