Friday, April 22, 2005


More ice-cream theme'd flavas following on from yesterdays' post:

Billy Mackenzie followed his 1982 split from fellow Associate Alan Rankine with a solo single credited to MACKENZIE sings ORBIDOIG. It strikes me that "Ice Cream Factory" has been unfairly tippex'd out of the history-books; here, a brave (but ultimately futile) attempt was made to recapture Rankin's peculiar strain of production madness with a flanged drum-intro and a hatful of ever-so-slightly-detuned guitar-lines: some chiming and some going chik-chik-a-chakka like little chisels against the bright wooden (pine) grain of the melody-line. Although it lacks the compression and density, the alien darkness of Rankine's best work, the result is still Poptastic: imagine Josef-K attempting a new coked-up form of Early Eighties Afrobeat.

The recording sounds like it's been mixed-down on helium: the instrumentation feels stretched and a little shrill, as if it's been pitched-up slightly. There's a mildly hysterical element to Mackenzies' vocal; nothing new there, but, this time, we don't quite believe him when he sings: "I'd love a job in that wonderful ice-cream factory/mixing chocolata goodies and the rippling raspberry..." There's a sense that someone is standing, off-camera, with a gun to his head: someone from the ice-cream factory...

It genuinely astonishes me that this wasn't a major hit at the time. It seems so right for 1983.

(Flash-Fact: The track was actually written by guitarist Steve Reid from Orbidoig, who went onto co-form The Associates Mark 2 with Mackenzie.)

It is odd, listening to Mackenzie singing this song twenty years get a sense that he came close (with and without Rankine) to creating an Eighties form of Glam (a sort of Anti-New Rom) that could have filled the vacuum created by Bowie's absence as a creative force...but, ironically, Mackenzie (along with other Post-Postcard 'progressives' like Paul Haig, The Fire Engines' Davy Henderson, etc) were the inadvertent progenitors of the C86 micro-boom which ultimately made them all redundant by declaring its own shambling Sub/Post-Punk Year-Zero.

A shame...but, then again, Mackenzies' career (and life), in retrospect, seems now to have been a litany of lost opportunities.


At 7:16 pm, Anonymous mic said...

great single. And great also The Sensational Creed' Nocturnal Operation.

At 10:27 pm, Anonymous yeltzfan said...

It was a truly wonderful but demented single, I remember the shock when Perhaps came out that the same duo could turn things completely on their head and go for such a flat sound. Incidentally, it was C86 that was the final nail in the coffin for me and I stopped buying albums for a long time, I just didn't like the direction things were going - the music just didn't seem interesting or ambitious.


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