Aidan John Moffat - I Can Hear Your Heart (4 stars)

Aidan John Moffat

(Chemikal Underground)


Sometimes a relationship has run its course and all you can do is split up, something former Arab Strappers Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton know all too well. Since going their separate ways, Middleton has produced his best solo work yet, and on this showing, Moffat is thriving too. Soon to come is Moffat’s full band offering, The Best-Ofs, but first is this compelling spoken word album set to music, with an accompanying short story.

As you might expect from Moffat’s track record, this is far from easy listening, but then the best albums rarely are. The press accompanying this ambitious and fascinating project comes with X-rated warnings, and rightly so. Unleashed from the restraints of Arab Strap, Moffat has dived headlong into the world of seedy, drunken sex and hopelessly flawed romanticism that so obsesses him, and it’s thrilling but unnerving stuff.

The musical accompaniment that soundtracks all this is a blend of scratchy classical samples, oddball jazz, party noises, offbeat folk and electronica, all of which adds to the unsettling nature of Moffat’s words. And what words they are. Uncompromising yet darkly humorous and deeply perceptive, pieces like ‘Beak’, ‘Good Morning’ and ‘Hopelessly Devoted’ (in which he imagines Sandy and Danny on the rocks post-Grease) are truly moving, and elsewhere, the pornographic trawl through sex’s dark side accumulates to create a disturbing but powerful artistic vision. Throw in unlikely but perfectly contextualised covers of Dorothy Parker and Bruce Springsteen, and you’ve got a significant piece of work, both musical and literary.

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