Prescott - One Did (4 stars)

Peculiar instrumental trio inspired by the seemingly hapless caricature of a deputy PM

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Prescott - One Did

The rehabilitation of John Prescott – from famously awkward orator and seemingly hapless caricature of a deputy PM to gruffly avuncular cultural icon and medium-ranking Twitter royalty – appears to be complete with the release of his first solo album. Well, maybe not. But he does at least serve as the conceptual inspiration for this peculiar instrumental trio comprising bassist Kev Hopper of 1980s experimental indie outfit Stump, keyboardist Rhodri Marsden of Scritti Politti (amongst many other things) and drummer Frank Byng from Snorkel.

Anyone familiar with Stump’s playful, herky-jerky leftfield aesthetic will instantly recognise Hopper’s distinctive playing on One Did – a tangle of strange, jazzy chords, pops and twangs, nimble fingerstyle doodles and jittery energy. In Byng and Marsden, he has two highly accomplished collaborators – the former a highly creative, deft and precise drummer, the latter a versatile keyboardist as comfortable with sweet, melodic passages as wilfully awkward harmonic collisions.

Precisely what kind of music Prescott make is difficult to say. It’s remarkably spare, soft and airy – purely in terms of sonic palette, akin to mellow jazz-rock. However, the wildly eccentric melodic and harmonic choices and snare-tight but restless compositional arrangements make this a remarkably confrontational and uncomfortable (albeit totally compelling) listen. The best bits are when the most complex, giddy sections segue into what Hopper calls ‘microriffing’ – maddening bouts of repetition with a single truncated phrase taken out of context and driven into the ground with gleeful, wicked abandon.

For the most part, One Did doesn’t stray far from its idiosyncratic trench, aside from two tracks: ‘Philby Flies’, driven by a steady, almost hip hop pulse, with discordant horns and spaghetti western guitars; and the elegant but otherworldly closing piano solo ‘One Done’. As far as British-politician-themed art-rock bands go, Prescott are a unique and mischievous proposition, and vastly more enjoyable than the stodgy, bitter, imaginary peerage-rock of The Norman Tebbit Experience.

Out now via Slowfoot.

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