Need More Sources - Shed

George Bass 01/06/2007

Rating: 3.5/5

A whole album? About sheds? It might have all the opening premise of a Roy Brown novelty record, but under the patronage of revered electronica cabal Moteer, you can be assured safety from anecdotes about a cobwebby stockade where Him Indoors tiptoes for a Jodrell over his Charlie Dimmock calendar. Newcomer Chris Stewart copies his stagename from a prompt in the P2P glossary, and combines pianocentric soundtrack vignettes with a spritely ambient wooze for his fifty-four minute debut. Shed might not get you running down to B&Q and asking when the next Bank Holiday is, but in drawing on the half-nostalgia of a midnight childhood sneak between hibernating Flymos and paddling pools shriveled with gaffer tape liver spots, it succeeds in stirring up an atmos that's equal parts authentic and cornball fun.

Despite the parochiality of its namesake, many of the tracks seem written to calmly document adventures, and incorporate a swoop of instrumentation from soup to nuts. Spring ‐ as in Sheds In The; each song is singularly named to create ten plays on the album's title ‐ rustles with a peppery IDM twist that mimics E*Vax going through a bongo phase, some advert-ready classical diversions thrown in to the mix for good measure. Stewart prefers to use strings and keys in favour of the FX menus of his Fruityloops software, though, and opener Morning is a translucent union between the artificial and the conventional; a mirage seen through bathroom glass that shimmers like Greg Haines sniffing Ronseal.

While nowhere near fey enough to claim there's fairies at the bottom of the garden, Need More Sources can make a pitch to your softer side without larding on the sentiment till it becomes too treacley. Autumn's sombre scales are as tragic as tools gone rusty, things kept bleak and seized until some electric guitar and drum ruffles come to the rescue like WD-40 and wire wool. Likewise, the acoustic wormcasts and stylophone dialing tones of Valley are cinematically potent in a Sebastian Tellier kind of way - imagine Scarlett Johanson pouting round a garden centre while Bill Murray skulks murmuring in the seed aisle. Some well-applied savvy tamps the wallow factor on the album, and Rain's string-dripping onomatopoeia uses layered symphonics to turn sodden ply into a crust of turquoise lichen, with some peripheral horns conveying a feeling of snuggly splendour.

Shed is appropriately joyous and dismal in near-equal measures, and for the most part stays versatile enough to ward off the impatience that can befall the archetypal concept album. It's never going to tear up any speaker cones, but what is done is executed with a delicate professionalism, rather like musically diffusing a bomb. If it's the actual bang you're after, though, you might be better off looking for a record called Garage or Blasting Quarry. Nevertheless, a release worth investigating and a worthy recruit for the Moteer chosen few.