Staubgold / Staubgold 65 CD/LP (2005)
Hassle Hound’s first full length album release and their debut on Staubgold.
“There’s a very real skill in making an album sound as eclectically irreverent as ‘Limelight Cordial’ without it descending into a sticky mess of half-baked ideas and breached taste boundaries. Hassle Hound have got the skills to pay the bills… Following a couple of releases through Twisted Nerve, the three-piece Hassle Hound (Ela Orleans, Tony Swain & Mark Vernon) have managed to pin-down their wandering creativity to produce an LP that contains more ideas per minute than most groups manage in the spells between rehab. Seemingly undeterred by usual considerations of what does and doesn’t go together, ‘Limelight Cordial’ opens through the Goons Show-meets-Four Tet of ‘Anvil Stamping Stallion’ – a song that somehow fuses the sound of horses hooves, delicate guitar and telephone chatter into an emotionally rich four minutes. From this, the mood is immediately flipped for the string-lashed ‘The Night Of The Great Season (a song which flirts a bit too heavily in Lemon Jelly territory), before the fabulously odd ‘Farce Of Dusty Knee’ massages Brazilian percussion, mournful swipes, surf guitar and ‘ye-haw’ vocal samples into a gleeful flash of expertly balanced joy. Elsewhere, ‘Star Lantern And Two Mice’ is a brittle coalition of fizzing electronics and mealy instrumentation, ‘White Roads’ points to where Air might be had they discovered Vashti Bunyan, whilst ‘Primrose’ takes The Avalanches only good idea and makes it better. To the power of twenty. Sniff it out!”
“Ramshackle Glaswegian sound collectors Hassle Hound finally bring the post-folktronic, cut’n’paste, strummy-hummy jams on this impossibly blessed full-length. With neighing horses, boinnnng-ing springs, and flamenco and psychedelic guitars, Hassle Hound is the musical equivalent of a Valhalla-esque flea market crossed with a super-group of every charismatic, story-hoarding uncle the world has known. Moreover, the depth and breadth of samples layered in among the exquisitely crafted songs almost makes this a train-hopping, long-haired hippie cousin of The Books.”
Brion Paul, XLR8R
“Accomplishing no small feat, Hassle Hound have taken the milieus and motifs of the Old West (among other nostalgic themes), added modern electronics, and made it work very well indeed. ‘Limelight Cordial’ is a deceptively casual-sounding record which, upon closer listen, must have taken a lot of time – it begins with ‘Anvil Stamping Stallion’, a mix bag of jazz guitars, horse whinnies, and other breezy detritus that could easily be the soundtrack of the most forward-thinking Bosco cartoon never produced. And that appears to the point elsewhere, as mini-epics like ‘Star Lantern and Two Mice’ lose themselves in time, with 1960s style Brazilian percussion behind guitar lines from Fritz Lang’s exotic 1920s visions, all augmented by blips and squirks that subtly invoke their source computers. There truly is a little bit of everything here, which makes ‘Limelight Cordial’ exceedingly difficult to classify, but when a record is this clever and well-executed, that doesn’t really matter. And it’s worth the price for the supreme genius of ‘The Farce of Dusty Knee’ alone.
Tom Meluch, http://www.atmsphr.org
“Let me just first say, anything coming from Staubgold has high expectations from me. Schwabinggrad Ballett blew my mind. If you don’t have that one, get it now. That’s the last time I’m going to say that… well, probably not. But regardless, as high as my expectations are of this cutting edge experimental label from Berlin, they have yet to disappoint. And Hassle Hound is no exception. From beginning to end, this sample-tastic, playfully haunting collection of folktronica-ish collage mastery really doesn’t stop.
From its’ strange phone call sample beginning, “Anvil Stamping Stallion” leads a bizarre dance amidst percussion of horse galloping and neighing samples as an introduction to sonic theatre. Images are painted throughout; hot tropical nights on the exotic sounding “Tahitian Sideshow”, complete with ukulele strings, thick bass line and chirping samples, discos and opium dens on “Poppy Bush” – without saying a word. *At first I took that to mean W’s daddy Poppy Bush, or now I see it as actually a Poppy plant. hmm?* Dreamy visions of the characters from Where The Wild Things Are sneaking about on the densely layered sounds of “Monsters Are Due On Maple Street”. “Hazel” builds garage (or garbage can) percussion, upright bass and other strings with sultry vocals for a loungy groove that should be tagged as psychetronica. And if that sub-genre doesn’t really exist, this record should go into the wikipedia definition as required listening for “psychetronica” even though they could never be pinned down specifically.
Oddly enough, when I wrote about Schwabinggrad Ballett, I described it in visual terms too. Until now, that was the only record that expressed such an incredible amount of imagery through sound design. It was also the only other record that I can think of that had what would normally be an excrutiating number of sounds layered upon each other, but was executed masterfully. Never sounding forced or unintentional, it is engaging and requires multiple listens to notice the intricate details, details that are well worth paying attention to.”
Just Add Noise
“I don’t feel capable of writing about this album…. Way too much going for the mere mortal like me to parse.
Charming samples of horse whinnies go up against spaghetti western bits and what sounds like a wild west wagon ride on the first track, “Anvil Stomping Stallion.”
The second track, “Tahitian Sideshow” features crazy drunken saloon piano with what sounds like Hawaiin guitar – but maybe it’s the musical saw? This underneath a slightly Caribbean sounding vocal?
Like I said, not easy for the mere mortal to parse, but it’s fun to try. And more fun still to sit back and just get lost in the dazzling array of sounds that Hassle Hounds present to listeners.
At points later in the album, use of samples becomes more explicit and more comical, sounding more like Matthew Bourne or People Like Us than The Books.
Highly recommended for fans of sample-heavy experimental pop groups such as The Books. Hassle Hound are a bit more fun and funny and very are some very pretty, truly transcendent moments of pure pleasure on Limelight Cordial.”
Gordon B. Isnor – http://www.lefthip.com/review_detail.php?
“Plenty of smiles on this pleasantly clever humorous cut-up record…it’s a trio of players, Tony Swain and Mark Vernon from Glasgow, and Ela Orleans, a Polish woman living in Brooklyn. Mark Vernon is one half of Vernon & Burns and also Boy Band Tax Returns. Together they use computers, samples, loops, keyboards and some live instruments (including vocals), mostly piecing their music out of old records as they ‘rip and twist through the best and most eclectic of record collections, ripping out and tearing off ideas and samples.’ This approach to pastiche is very much in the mode of People Like Us, and even uses similar source material – recordings of radio announcers, and easy listening records, and many choice moments from same, usually selected on the strength of their utter inanity. The record manages to raise a few chortles with its jolly juxtapositions, most notably on the opening track which reminded me of ‘Frontier Psychiatrist’ by The Avalanches (it even includes a neighing horse as lead vocalist)…”
Ed Pinsent, Sound Projector
“Hassle Hound is something I never heard of before, even when Mark Vernon of Vernon & Burns is part of it. He plays computer, sampler, loops and keyboards. The other members are Ela Orleans on vocals, violin, guitar, keyboards and toy instruments and Tony Swain on guitar, bass, samples, loops and keyboards. So far they had a split 12″ on Textile and a 10″ on Pickled Egg, so ‘Limelight Cordial’ is their debut CD. If Staubgold wants popmusic they could call in Hassle Hound, as they play their own weird version of popmusic. Partly based on plunderphonics, with all sorts of weird samples being thrown into the mix, there are also neat lovely tunes, exotica and surf music and what else. A true hotch potch of sounds and ideas. Most of them are well made, sometimes they miss the point at all, but that’s hardly a problem. Throughout it’s a very nice CD of mixed media poptunes.”
F.D.W. / Vital Weekly