Flo & Spicey – Flo & Spicey’s Tea Set
‘Flo & Spicey’s Tea Set’ would in all likelihood have completely passed me by if it had not been for a nodded wink from Monorail Records up there in Glasgow Town (my spiritual home from home perhaps, maybe, still, and at this point can I just leap off on another tangent and tell you I feel guilty about not also including Alpaca Sports’ lovely ‘From Paris With Love’ album in this advent series not least for their gorgeous ‘Feel Like Going Home’ song that captures something of the strange pull of West of Scotland that I Hate/Love and really Alpaca Sports could in some sense be as far from Flo & Spicey as you could get whilst still existing in the same universe).
Monorail made reference to Broadcast in their (obviously very effective) sales pitch, and there is certainly something of a shared thread of interest in psychedelic folk mythology filtering through this ‘Tea Set’. Mostly though it puts me in mind of the very wonderful Lispector records which themselves could conjure notions of Marine Girls with toy keyboards instead of guitars or Young Marble Giants as Gothic romantics hiding in darkened basements sticking the wings torn from flies onto Barbie bodies. Or, to put it another way, ‘Flo & Spicey’s Tea Set’ could certainly be some of the music referenced in David Keenen’s part fact/part fiction ‘This Is Memorial Device’ novel. It certainly treads the lines of experimental sound collages where you can see/hear the torn edges and masking tape, and that is to be celebrated of course.
If I can throw something else in the mix here too (and I can, so I will) it is to Jim Beattie’s Adventures In Stereo. Beattie appears cruelly to have been all but erased from the Primal Scream narrative (a throwaway line about how Gillespie formed the group with Beattie is the sole reference in that previously mentioned BBC documentary) and it surprises me too how seldom his Adventures In Stereo records (particularly the first LP) are mentioned these days. Certainly the rough-cut approach of musical collage (look! You can see the edges! Aren’t the edges just wonderful?!) is stage centre in Adventures In Stereo and it is the same on ‘Flo & Spicey’s Tea Set’.
The extended motorik centre piece of ‘Tea Suite’ is a mesmerising fourteen minutes of repetition, repetition, repetition in a sequence of movements that are each distinct yet distinctly connected as a whole. As a Suite it certainly underpins the entire album and is a track that I find myself wanting to hear again and again. However it is on their shorter cuts that Flo & Spicey really connect, in particular with my love of Pop/Dada collage, and all of their numbers are by turns like a Hamilton, Höch or Hausmann in musical form. Best of all is ‘Sucking In The Sun’ which starts with a tram bell invite to a world of sunshine and warmth, from whence it proceeds to a place of sun-bleached synth washes and bleeps of ice cream dropped on toasted promenades. It is three minutes and ten seconds of Sunshine Psychedelia beamed in from a past or a future where technology is still or is again sketchy and unreliable. ‘Sucking In The Sun’ is Suicide and The United States Of America vacationing in the Stockholm archipelago, taking scalpels to Abba tapes and sticking them back together with safety pins. And if you can think of a finer recommendation of a place to visit then I for one certainly want to hear of it.