The band Pram never got a fair shake. Either overlooked in the years when Stereolab were seen as champs of this sort of thing, or compared to that outfit or Broadcast. Such comparisons were, of course, apt, if a bit unfair; Pram always seemed the most inscrutable of the lot, pieces of soundtrack music and krautrock mingled up with...calypso figures, near-baroque bits, and traces of post-punk. The band's been away for 11 years but they are, thankfully, back with the fine Across The Meridian, out tomorrow on Domino.
Lead single "Shimmer and Disappear" glides in on the back of a hook that's pure Raymond Scott, big band horns blaring off in the distance, while the lighter "Footprints Towards Zero" hints at a debt owed to Martin Denny's material. Elsewhere, the Birmingham band ease things into a slower tempo with the elegant "Shadow in Twilight" and the stately "Electra", numbers that suggest that the group are content to stake out new territory outside their previous familiar goal-posts. The peppy "Sailing Stones" segues into the wonderfully-titled "Where The Sea Stops Moving", the sound the one that Tim Burton characters hear in the trees at night. If there's some faint-jazz here (flashes of Mingus-inspired whimsy peeking through "Ladder to the Moon"), it remains the haunting numbers, like "Doll's Eyes", that linger in the memory, and provide reassurance that this band remain as great as you'd remembered.
Out tomorrow on Domino, Across The Meridian is a superb record, one that blends risky, downright edgy music, with the welcomed beats and throbs that this band rode to some level of indie popularity a few years ago. Delightfully familiar, and wonderfully strange, the music of Pram remains fantastic and entirely unique.
More details on Pram via the band's official Facebook page.
[Photo: Uncredited band photo from band's official Facebook page]