SMALL PACKAGES – Small Packages (Private Pressing)

I am sure that this album will have some fans, but I am afraid that I just cannot get into it. It is instrumental, mostly played on guitar and drum machine, with electronic effects scattered throughout the tracks, and while the band are competent enough musicians the lack of melody and instrusiveness of the electronics does not make for an easy listen. Opener ‘Elevenses’ meanders on for over eight minutes, but never really arrives anywhere, and while ‘Basingstoke’ is energetic enough, it just ends up as two guitars playing against each other and trying to find a tune. ‘Pleasant Interlude’ is actually anything but, with screeching synths cross-fading for just over a minute, before ‘Motion’ segues in and presents another guitar duel. ‘Underground Mad Place’ does away with the guitars for five minutes of random poking at a keyboard, and for most of the rest of the album that is the best that we get. The introduction of viola on ‘Authorisation For Mercy Obtained’ does little o help as it is used for neither melody nor rhythm, and ‘Etiquette’ ends the album with a new age type piece on solo synth. The overall impression that I get from this album is that it is extremely dated, sounding as if was recorded in the early to mid 80’s, and should it have been so then it would have probably been at the cutting edge of indie music of the time, perhaps even rivalling personal favourites such as Caberet Voltaire. However, as musicians Peter Ashby and Barry Lamb produced the music this year then it just makes the band 25 years behind the times.