SLUG is Ian Black, a former member of Field Music and a merrily disruptive influence on North East music for more than a decade. The album Ripe was co-produced with Peter and David Brewis of Field Music at their studio in Sunderland, with the brothers adding occasional drums, synths and percussion to Ian’s elaborate home-brewed constructions.
David has described the album as the most ambitious he’s ever worked on. Ian appears to have consumed and spat out film music (proggy Italian horror, Lynchian twanging), Erik Satie, Zeppelin-esque knotty riffing, snippets of synth-heavy disco, post-punk’s more dub-centric excursions and even a smattering of Hall & Oates‘ new wave blue-eyed soul. The vocals vary from high and sweet four-part harmonies to sinister whispers to a spiteful rasp which wouldn’t seem out of place on a particularly grumpy Roger Waters demo. It also manages to be very funny, partly due to the surreal, imagistic lyrics and partly from the unexpected moments of musical audacity.
That this all hangs together is testimony to Ian’s unselfconscious voracity and a unique and eccentric musical imagination. It helps too that the record is incredibly catchy. They might not happen in a conventional way but the songs a packed with off-kilter hooks. And if there’s one element Ian has taken from his time with Field Music, it’s the sense of not hanging around unnecessarily. The songs are concise. Myriad ideas fight for their time in the sun and then blow themselves out in a flash, or perhaps a scream of echoing, cackling feedback.