small things ~ keep calm and dig CD (CHUG 8, 1998)

small things - Keep calm~and dig CD

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Lo-Fi MP3 previews:
legacy is a bus
brownian motion
hello, i am antler spice
ibrox to tolzbad
el nino
please hammer, don't hurt them
walking there and the walking back again
!!! like person shape tinsel !!!
stick your components
the appliance of silence
how now brown cow

Hi-Fi MP3s:
LEGACY IS A BUS (128kHz :: 13.7MB) i know this is huge but i honestly guarantee it'll blow you right the fuck away.
IBROX TO TOLZBAD (128kHz :: 1.49MB)
HAZELNUT (128kHz :: 2.20MB)
EL NINO (128kHz :: 4.54MB)

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Twelve strangely detuned miniatures in which Small Things tweak and twist some of the practices that have hardened what's come to be called post-rock and/or lo-fi into rote exercises. The initial ten plus minutes of stunted and twisted guitar melodizing, "Legacy is a Bus," throw down the gauntlet right away. It's as if main Thing Andrew Clare wants to baffle the listener with a mixture of Slovenly guitar tangle and Young Marble Giants low-key pop. As strange as this CD sounds at times, it is also focused. The appeal is in this combination of understated instrumental exploration and the verges of pop song structure. The listener becomes vaguely uncomfortable sensing some impossible to follow line, improvising, and experimenting. A balance is struck, but it's a moving balance and somewhat vertiginous. A trickling little melody escapes from "Hello. I Am Antler Spice" as instruments col- lide and insinuate themselves into each other "Ibrox to Tolzbad" begins like some children's toy synth undergoing a surge of electricity. Clare has a loyalty to seemingly dinky little sounds, sounds that on their own seem piddling, but when combined together by him have great effect. Small Things also bust out some serious feedbacknoise on "Please Hammer Don't Hurt Them." "Walking There and Back Again" features a carefully unfurled, sweet little melody played with a soft touch. Keep Calm— and Dig is going to take some work and some getting used to. I'll probably pull it off the shelf quite a bit in the weeks to come. Small Things are taking the minute tools that those in search of other more "important" forms of music from "post-rock" to "lo-fi" and "free improv" have abandoned—plucks and bleeps and quivers—and made something unique and appealing. There's evidence not only of hard work here, but of a singular aesthetic that will survive after a lot of grand statements have been forgotten. Queasy and appealing. [Infinite Chug, 14 Worcester Close. Langdon Hills, Essex, SS16 6TW, U.K.] Bruce Adams [your flesh magazine]

Andru Clare's reputation is fast growing, both as part of the excellent Xlll Ghosts and head of the Infinite Chug label. Keep Calm And Dig is essentially a solo album - Clare plays drums and other instruments on most tracks - and is probably the best thing he's done so far. Clare's guitar playing is what may be termed 'naive rock', as he constantly comes close to playing 'properly', but never quite does. This makes the music highly listenable and very charming. Unlike Sonic Youth, Clare's detuned guitar simply sounds out of tune, yet this lo-fi master with hi-fi production values has created a truly shimmering and off-kilter album with some excellent moments. An in-figure in out-rock.
Jim Barker [rubberneck 28]

The music on Small Things "Keep Calm and Dig" is an esoteric barrage of guitar-based, instrumentals. The guitars seem to have been tuned by Coco the Gorilla, and possess the tension of being on the brink of snapping during their running of strange scales, plucking harmonics and off-sounding chords. Drums and bass provide a solid rhythmic backdrop to the bright, piercing guitar dementia. Accentuating the overall discordance of the album are the harsh screeches of violins and indiscernible, creepy samples. Bright ringing bells add an element of solid tone beneath this controlled chaos.
On initially listening to this album it seems to be the musical equivalent of a run-on sentence, especially on the first track "Legacy is a bus". Part after part is seemingly added without any sense of cohesion. After repeated listens structure is evident, with the guitars revolving around certain themes.
This album almost seemed unlistenable to me at first, but after awhile I started to enjoy it. "Keep Calm and Dig" is somewhat like blue cheese dressing, one may hate it at first, but after trying it again and again its fungal bitterness becomes more appetizing. This is the type of music Small Things creates: you will either savor it, or find it the aural equivalent of Ipecac.
Jeff Cardello [rocketfuel online magazine]

Après "Pregnant longer than human", "Keep calm and dig" est la seconde réalisation de Small Things, pour moitié projet solo d'Andrew Clare (boss d'Infinite Chug, graphiste, guitariste, batteur et membre de The XIII Ghosts auquel participèrent Thurston Moore et Derek Bailey) et collectif d'ex-Mcnorton4, Bald Mermaid et I'm being good. La musique de Small Things est étrange, brinquebalante, évoquant tout à la fois l'orientalisme naïf et les saveurs balinaises propres aux microintervalles développés par Harry Partch et la part expérimentale de Sonic Youth (sur SYR) comme Polar Goldie Cats, Wham-O (Jeff Fuccillo) ou Irving Klaw Trio sans les paroles. Un disque à découvrir donc, sur un label qui, entre autres bonnes choses, a produit Truman's Water et annonce un duo Banjo Pete avec...l'Edward Gorey au féminin : la dessinatrice Dame Darcy ! Bigre... Philippe ROBERT

Small Things' Keep Calm and Dig CD is from the same label, and as far as the Probe review team can make out, is a side project of one of the I'm Being Good fellas. And from the same total lack of respect to the Rock and Roll rule book, you can tell. In many ways, Keep Calm and Dig is even more way-out than Poisonous Life. True, the latter flirts with hardcore riffs and throat tearing yelps, but Keep Calm and Dig boasts even more unconventional timing and song structures. Amazingly, the tuning is even more odd, convincing the first time listener that the stereo's blown their eardrums. Like Professor Brainstorm flying at the Pentatonic Scale with a set of twisted compasses and a cracked protractor. Something bonkers and non-intelligible at any rate. The first track is instrumental - all tracks on Keep Calm and Dig are (as are a fair few I'm Being Good numbers). Legacy is a Bus clocks in at 15 minutes, and boasts recorders, harmonics, windcharms and sampled geese. At least I think it did.
The problem with listening to records like Keep Calm and Dig, and, to a lesser extent, Poisonous Life, is that you can only guess what on earth's going on in the minds of these crazies. After the second track on Poisonous Life, a cheer of relief - presumably celebrating the successful completion of a song nearly gives the game away. There's clearly an intensity to the music which doesn't necessarily translate that well on record. If you like what's going on you're going to want to see I'm Being Good do a good live show; and you're going to be thinking what great soundtrack music Small things could make if only they were given the chance.......