Lone Pigeon Concubine Rice

Gordon Anderson was a founding member of the Pigeons — a band which was later to become the Beta Band. However he was forced to leave and move back to Scotland due to illness and now performs under the moniker Lone Pigeon. Concubine Rice is a most peculiar album. It is full of half-finished ideas, songs that will start but then disappear within a minute. It has an otherworldly feel, partly because it often recalls the simpler sounds of the ’60s and ’70s, willfully borrowing from the likes of John Lennon, Neil Young, Syd Barrett and The Beach Boys while at the same time employing an array of instruments and samples to create somewhat cluttered soundscape. This effect is heightened by the bizarre world in which the songs take place — a world of elephants, pelicans and Old Mr Muncherman, a place so deranged that it seems it must be the product either of a disturbed mind or one which has had large amounts of hallucinogens pumped through it. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the opening moments of track 5, which begins with the following spoken word piece,

I hear … a world where anything make sense as long as you don’t look at it too hard

Deep, deep, in the land of the living poop,
The people popped out,
Pondering in the fields
What were they looking for?
They were looking for insectaflies,
They were looking for buzzardfleas,
No… they were looking for the hubbard cow.
The ancient hubbard cow of Bubbletoop
Now, the cows used to roam freely in the fields,
Until they began to fly.
Yes, flying bubbard clows in the flields of fliels.
Away in the holling wills and the mills of time
Away in the time of ten tim chim chim chim chim chim chim booo…..

Basically, the album is a mess. In this respect it does recall much of The Beta Band’s music with both seeming to feel compelled to include every musical idea they have ever had on each 50 minute album. But while I have always had the sense that The Beta Band are trying a bit too hard to achieve this, Lone Pigeon seems like he couldn’t write an album any other way. Concubine Rice has 13 tracks but 26 names listed in the liner notes meaning a track can contain three different musical ideas, none reaching their full potential almost as if Anderson didn’t have the attention span to complete one song before moving on to the next. In between the psychedelic craziness there are touching ballads, meandering instrumental tracks and pretty much every style of pop music you could imagine. Indeed, according to his label’s website in one month he managed to produce over 300 tracks. The track ‘Melonbeard’ alone contains enough ideas for a good 15 minute EP but clocks in at a third of that time.

For many this haphazard, scattergun approach will mean this album is fatally flawed. It is true that of the 26 or so ideas explored on the album there are at least a few disappointing tracks which didn’t deserve to make the cut. But you can always be safe in the knowledge that Lone Pigeon will promptly forget about them within 2 minutes. However, aside from these exceptions, I find it hard to see the lack of order and coherent thought as a negative. While there is a place for perfectly sculpted masterpieces of records in this world, it makes a pleasant change to find an unpolished gem — an album whose beauty is only apparent fleetingly. When I listen to Concubine Rice, I hear a world of happiness, of sadness, of cartoon characters and mythical creatures, a world where anything make sense as long as you don’t look at it too hard, somewhere which feels as if at any moment it could collapse under the weight of its own nonsensical logic and inconsistencies.

2 comments posted — most recent by Martin on 20/08/07