14 Aug 2014
Os Noctàmbulos "Corsica Garden"
Reviewed by Nathan Ford
Back in 2012 Sheffield's 39th & the Nortons released a "Blonde on Blonde" inspired piece of excellence that I raved about (review here). Since then Nick Wheeldon has relocated to Paris, and his new outfit there, Os Noctàmbulos, have moved onto greener pastures (of a similar vintage).
Gone then are the thin wild mercury sounds of "On Trial", with "Corsica Garden" focusing on quality vintage sounding garage psych which sits firmly in the Seeds / Dovers camp ("On Trial"s "Don't Look Back" showed that Wheeldon already had an affinity for these sounds). Os Noctàmbulos first release - a split album with Plantains a few months ago, proved that he could sustain the style over a lengthier run, and now debut full length "Corsica Garden" is the fulfillment.
The first thing that struck me about "Corsica Garden" was that his three bandmates are on exactly the same page as Nick - particularly successful is the way that Valentin Buchens' spidery guitar leads wind their way around Wheeldon's spooky organ runs, especially on moody slow-burners like "It Scares Me".
Wheeldon's vocals are equally visceral, with palpable anguish in his delivery of the refrain "...I don't understand..." on "Bad Man" which perfectly captures the sense of frustration, brattiness and angst that's long been at the heart of garage-punk.
Elsewhere there's an effective surf guitar instrumental (Polly) which given the gritty, vintage production aesthetic has a hell of a lot more balls than most of the original surf / rockabilly guns, and gives the kings Dick Dale and Link Wray a run for their money.
Vintage garage collectors who wrinkle their nose at the new stuff need this one.
Coming on vinyl September 1st from Evil Hoodoo Records. Pre-order here.