Bristol Archive Records Blog

Gardez Darkx – Album Review

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The wheezy brass and clip-clop percussion of ‘White Rain’ is enough to tell you we’re in left-field art-rock territory, and as there’s never any map I can’t really clear things up. Stream of unconsciousness lyrics never take hold, as attractive, windblown guitar sails away, and a sax alternates between being sometimes heroic, sometimes hated. ‘Stranger’ wees itself happily, with some hideous guitar overspill from a cute enough tune which has some pushy little perky touches to go with the supreme crooning of Latif Gardez, who apparently also recorded as Mystery Slang. It’s like The Associates gone grubby and a touch muso. Is that a good thing?

‘S. M. Tiger’ gets some post-jazz tinkling going, which you did find creeping through at the start of the 80s, with the indie scene brimming over with people trying to reinvent styles other than punky fare, some rough and scary, some surprisingly mellow but irritating like Gardez Darkx. ‘Random Alligator’ is an interesting mess, the idling keyboards suggesting someone like The Doors but it mainly feels likely a drowsy early Spandau Ballet visited by some odd bluesy guitar runs, as the young Latif was apparently influenced by the late, great Rory Gallagher, not that you can tell. Doorsian similarities flood the dumpy ‘Steel Wind’ but sadly this is not the end, my friend.

‘Saints’ has a slinky feel going, but with annoying yowling vocals, but otherwise it’s less scattershot, more direct. ‘Go!’ sounds like ‘Hong Kong Garden’ meets ABC, with a kids tv audience in mind, twee but sweetly twisted while ‘Doctor Be Good’ is strangled Bowie.
‘Bandage Mechanics’ is a gnarled funk David Byrne thing too, so the influences are all over the shop although it’s all there to serve the somewhat sore songs. ‘Whirlwind Friend’ staggers boldly to a finish with all of the aforementioned sounds locked in its dusty grooves and really it’s gone before you’ve grasped what they’re after.

There were tons of bands like this back then, and I can’t say I’m surprised the name hasn’t established itself. The best I can say is that if you’re into that arty noodling there’s a lot more gravitas here than some of the jerkier blaring bands offered, but it’s not my kind of thing in any way. I was glad when it finished.


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