Eccentronic Research Council – Johnny Rocket, Narcissist & Music Machine . . . I'm Your Biggest Fan (4 stars)

Socio-political crazed fan concept album delivers off-kilter, distorted electronica

Eccentronic Research Council – Johnny Rocket, Narcissist & Music Machine . . . I'm Your Biggest Fan

(Without Consent)

This approximately Sheffield-based synth trio, comprising Dean Honer (of All Seeing I), wordsmith Adrian Flanagan and actress Maxine Peake on droll, dramatic dictation, take all the po-faced pain out of concept albums. Admittedly, a spoken-word suite inspired by the Pendle witch trials might not be everyone’s idea of a sonic treat but 1612 Underture, released in 2012, was an audacious introduction to their singular blend of spoken word and vintage analogue electronica.

This latest offering is a first person account of an obsessive fan’s pursuit of her rock star quarry. Johnny Rocket is the lederhosen-wearing frontman of the Moonlandingz, the local big noise in Valhalla Dale, a degraded northern town where ‘jugglers were not welcome’. The story is sinister, the comedy is coal black, like Eminem’s ‘Stan’ as adapted by the League of Gentlemen.

Peake enunciates with relish her character’s increasingly stalkerish encounters with the irascible Rocket over a series of florid, deluded, one-way online communications, eventually revealing the horrifically humorous justification for her actions, which add a whole new socio-political twist to the story as it pitches towards its hysterical conclusion. Flanagan has nailed the stalker’s warped logic, and that thin line between love and hate; as well he might, given that the album was inspired by his own experience of a persistent fan and the enabling effect of social media.

The music is suitably distorted. Iggy Pop’s ‘Nightclubbing’ soundtracks a scene in a trendy Liverpool club and its disorientated lurch is echoed across a couple of bad-trip tracks. Meanwhile, Lias Saoudi and Saul Adamczewski of Fat White Family are on hand to play the Moonlandingz, providing snatches of off-kilter vaudevillesque electronica, the most complete of which is the space rockabilly number ‘Sweet Saturn Mine’, though ‘Psyche Ersatz’ deserves a nod for the Fall-like title alone.

Out now on Without Consent.

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