Adam Stafford, 'Taser Revelations'
Adam Stafford hails from a similar ilk to Scottish indie pop artists (like Withered Hand, Ballboy, FOUND) who find their purple patch in expressing the darker shades.
Released earlier in March on the excellent Edinburgh record label Song By Toad, 'Taser Revelations' sees the Falkirk man pushing his loop pedal driven, off kilter pop music to more eclectic, conceptual levels.
I first heard Stafford's music when I took a punt on a (Song By Toad) Record Store Day release - a split 12" with himself on one side and Aberdonian Rick Redbeard on the other.
I was struck by the lovely low frequency gain on the guitar and, the surprising use of beat boxing. You go into that song thinking 'right, sweet guitar sound and oh! I used to beat box like that down the back of Mrs. Knox's chemistry lesson', but the looped, layered guitar hooks take it completely away from the Scots Goldie Lookin' Chain impression you're imagining and (once the nasal, abstract words kick in) to a sound that is full of personality and frankly brilliant.
On this record, he's still got that distinctive mix of looped, harmonic guitar/vocal hooks, but the sounds are more varied. There's a Marimba on the second song! A Marimba! (on second thought it is most definitely a steel drum, but I love the word Marimba, so it's staying where it is..)
The intro sounds like something you'd get on an underwater level in Mario Brothers (that probably doesn't exist, but it's a decent analogy). As far as I can tell, it's a dancy song about tangerines and capitalism and pessimism.. Like a lot of the lyrics on the record, they're a little obtuse - it'll take a few listens to get your ears around them. But it's worth it, because they're great.
The grey sparsity of songs like 'Black Lung Applications' and 'Railway Trespassers' allude to his previous work as a director/filmmaker. Scottish BAFTA nominated 'The Shutdown' and his second short, 'No Hope For Men Below' is work that speaks bleak of coal and petrochemical industrialization.
With a Jazzmaster and a few stomps on a spring loaded steel box, Stafford creates sonic landscapes that range from eery to beautiful and aptly soundtrack the darkness that he denotes. He's created a style that is his own with these barest of components, and that is no mean feat in times where sound is so regurgitated and derivative.
In a past interview, Stafford described his music as the type of pop music that he'd like to hear in the charts. I could definitely go along with that.