Rob St John / Tommy Perman - Water of Life

As ever with Rob St John’s work, there’s an incredible amount of incidental detail that eventually (if you let matters slowly gestate) seeps into enriching the whole.

https://wateroflife.bandcamp.com/

A ridiculously good release and something that is enlightening to read about as to listen. OK that sounds naff - not to say patronising - but really, the more you play it the further you get sucked into this strange homage to water, and its “relationship” with a specific city, in this case, Edinburgh.  As ever with Rob St John’s work, there’s an incredible amount of incidental detail that eventually (if you let matters slowly gestate) seeps into enriching the whole. Here a kitchen sick of extra stuff is thrown at us; maps, essays, prints, folders, you name it. The Bandcamp link is provided at the top of the review, and you really need to read up whilst listening in.

Both tracks are built round an ever changing ménage of found sounds and minimal electro pop. It’s pop in the most basic, stripped down and gnomic manner too; we don’t get much in the way of melody or chorus, but there’s a jaunty step in the tracks that is total pop. On Sources and Springs / Abercrombie, 1949, the organ floats above the sound like some Floydian off-cut. It does have a queer, psychedelic edge to the sound, that comes on a bit like a Radiophonic Workshop or Studio G track. The second track, Liquid City / The Shellycoat – although equally dreamy - is more insistent, more beat-driven and as a consequence more likely to make a mark on your consciousness, especially as the beat gets abruptly cut off to be replaced by some singing, apparently (and I quote) a “children’s song about a watery spirit said to haunt the Pennybap boulder by Seafield Sewage Works.”

This single is a strange old thing, but pretty essential, if only for its essential otherness.