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coverpic flag England - Full Moon 75 - 11/20/02

Cameron Scott
Rubert Reynolds's Purple Patch
HQ

Once upon a time, before the internet, you could be pretty sure that music fans and record collectors the world over had a very different experience of new music than they do now. I can barely remember a time before I could hear about a band and then be able to immediately look at their entire discography, read hundreds of reviews, see photos of the band, and download songs without even leaving the house, let alone having to walk into a record store and rifle through the racks.

The choices we make as music fans are now influenced to a massive degree by the internet. It's wonderful to be able to have so much information at your fingertips, but it tends to foster a mentality whereby everyone is an expert as soon as they've read a few webpages. The internet, to an extent, is just a big market that makes it easier for record buyers to immediately find what they want - even if they didn't know they wanted it before they logged on - and buy at the click of a mouse. And as in any market place, the sellers who shout the loudest - Amazon et al. - get the most sales.

I've noticed that even independent record shops have become very similar to the enormous chains that I instinctively avoid. I'm not naive - I know you need to shift units to survive - but this survival instinct tends to turn all ways of buying records into transactions that bring no sense of wonder or excitement with them.

But then sometimes you discover something that makes you remember how it used to be. How you sometimes discovered a record by accident, how listening to it was a completely fresh experience simply because you had the feeling of being there first, that very few people would ever hear the music that reached your ears.

Cameron Scott lives in Glastonbury, has taken a lot of acid in his time (see the title and swirling artwork), and is a quite spectacularly charismatic fellow. I met him at a music festival in the idyllic English countryside at the height of summer where the happy campers are their own entertainment; a temporary community of performers and communicators; a kind of fire-side musical love-in. Some of the music he played on those summer evenings was so idiosyncratic, intelligent, funny and charming that I couldn't wait to hear what he played next.

I was told by Cameron before buying that this CD is nowhere near as good as the new material that he has written since and now plays with his band Altered Native. However, there's a part of me that feels good to just take a gamble, to not have my 'consumer choice path' mapped out in detail before I've even started to engage my brain. I thought, even if the CD's not good at least I'm contributing to the financial support of an excellent bloke who deserves to take his message and music to as many people as possible. I want to feel as though buying a record is more than just a cold financial transaction.

Despite being disappointed that Cameron was proved right - the stuff he's written since IS much better - I don't regret buying this CD. The only songs that I heard him play that are featured on the disc are the brilliant "The Volunteer" and "NEED-I-NESS", funking along with their staccato guitar and half-rapped lyrics combining more lyrical invention into ten minutes than I thought possible.

There are many other good moments on the CD where instrumental virtuosity shakes free of its fussiness and really moves the listener. It seems that Cam is a self-professed guitar junkie, thanking 'guitar makers everywhere' on the sleeve. This love of the instrument is immediately apparent in the way that many of the songs are layered with flourishes of Spanish guitar, or silvery electric guitar lines that shoot up the spine.

It has the definite feel of a series of demos, rough around the edges. The playing feels spontaneous and loose, occasionally one-take scrappy, but always immediate. The use of electronic sound is interesting and livens up the pace of the album.

I can't wait to hear new recorded material, even if you are one day able to buy it for 9.99 on Amazon...

Copyright © 2002 Tim Clarke e-mail address

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