Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Another Scritti Politti Review

original link here
Politti fans in Paradise as Gartside ends hiatus
by Christopher John Treacy
Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The turnout for Scritti Politti’s first-ever Beantown show Sunday night was enthused, but meager.
But Green Gartside seemed not to mind. The 50-year-old Wales-born musician looked like a kid in a candy store, taking the Paradise stage for a set touching on all aspects of his sporadic recording career.
Opening with a trio of songs from the sublime new “White Bread, Black Beer,” - “Snow in Sun,” “Robin Hood” and “After Six” - the touring Politti sextet, displayed accomplished musical chops with a unique blend of reggae beats, soaring choruses and blissed-out synth melodies. Scritti Politti’s hybrid has never been more relevant, albeit more than a quarter century down the pike.
Frontman Gartside’s one-of-a-kind blue-eyed soul pipes are described as both breathy and twee, but what’s amazing is how well they work in a variety of settings. He even rapped convincingly, busting out covers of DJ Premier’s “Come Clean” and Mad Skillz’s “Hands Up.” When he rested his guitar to deliver “The Boom Boom Bap,” he transcended the shiver-inducing quality of his own studio take.
It took a fair bit of electronic noodling to re-create Scritti’s heavily textured studio sound, with varying results. The newest and the oldest songs, including the fuzz-guitar laden “Skank Bloc Bologna” and island-hopping “The Sweetest Girl,” worked wonderfully. Unfortunately, the group’s biggest stateside success came with the MIDI-sequenced dance tracks from “Cupid & Psyche ’85,” and performing them is tricky. Of two songs chosen from that release, “Word Girl” triumphed with its low-slung bass groove and playful keyboard line, but “Wood Beez” seemed more of a chore.
But despite seeming befuddled by sound issues and not feeling 100 percent, Gartside made an impressive return to the stage after a hiatus of 26 years. Hopefully he’ll visit again sooner than later.
Scritti Politti with Jeffrey Lewis. At the Paradise, Sunday.
original link here

Scritti Politti makes ‘Beer’ run
By Christopher John Treacy
Friday, November 10, 2006 - Updated: 02:37 PM EST

Anxiety and self-doubt haunt everyone. For Scritti Politti ringleader Green Gartside, they were a menacing hindrance to his career.
Touring the States for the first time, Britain’s Scritti Politti plays the Paradise on Sunday, supporting its recent release, ‘‘White Bread, Black Beer.” The band achieved international pop stardom in the mid-’80s with the synth-pop masterpiece ‘‘Cupid & Psyche 85,” but acclaim only agitated the Wales-born Gartside, now 50, and he retreated into obscurity.
‘‘I hated success. It didn’t suit me at all,” he said from Toronto. ‘‘Success felt as horrible as failure. It didn’t agree with me, and I ran away.”
Gartside’s panic attacks halted the band’s first and only tour - with Joy Division and Gang of Four - in 1980. Two albums later, Scritti Politti had a global hit on its hands; Miles Davis even recorded a cover of the single ‘‘Perfect Way,” adding fuel to Gartside’s neurotic fire.
‘‘That just made everything worse,” he said. ‘‘It all felt completely undeserved, and that sort of thinking seeps into everything. You feel unattractive, unintelligent, worthless. I’d never taken compliments well; positive feedback felt the same as derogatory. And, in a room full of supporters, the one naysayer is the person I’d think really knew what they were talking about.”
Spawned from Britain’s burgeoning underground post-punk scene in 1979, Scritti Politti came together as a philosophical and political collective, fueled by dub reggae beats, a vegetarian diet and enough amphetamines to kill a horse. Gartside admits the lifestyle did nothing to help his anxiousness, ‘‘but,” he said, ‘‘we didn’t know any better.”
After the band moved away from its musically subversive roots into more accessible territory, Gartside’s condition kept it off the road. Between 1988’s ‘‘Provision” and now, Scritti Politti has made only two CDs. But it’s the long periods between projects that have kept Gartside in the game at all.
‘‘I’ve been fortunate,” he said. ‘‘Every time I’ve felt the itch to record again, somebody’s stepped up to help me. The new disc is a direct result of being reunited with (Rough Trade records’) Geoff Travis. He bought me a home studio and sort of looked after me. We’d talked about starting a Rough Trade hip-hop label, but then he asked about making another disc around my singing.
‘‘Music is one of a few ways to make life more bearable and stave off anxiety and boredom. Being able to work at a leisurely pace has made all the difference in the world. It’s the only way I could have gone about this. Honestly? I never thought I could make a record on my own.”
‘‘White Bread, Black Beer” feels like a culmination of all Gartside has learned en route.
‘When you disappear for seven or nine years at a time,” he said, ‘‘all that fear begins to dissipate. Because if you’re doing nothing, you’ll neither succeed or fail. But working with people I know and trust cast an entirely different light on this project. And what you get from that is a bit more confidence. These days, I feel like I basically lead a charmed life.”

No comments: