This man is not of this Earth. From past collaborations with both Julian Cope's band to Spiritualized and the mighty (and tragically defunct) Coil, Thighpaulsandra has acted as a spur for all around to go beyond their limitations. It is therefore understandable that his solo work also pushes envelopes seemingly beamed in from a different timeframe. His album for LTCo, from early 2006, 'Chamber Music', is no exception and both represents the label's second release and a relationship we hope to see continue with some future work. Since this album, he has had another one released by Brainwashed, 'The Lepore Extrusion, and a CDEP out on the Klanggalerie label. He is presently completing his seventh album, plus will appear at the Wroclaw Industrial Festival in Poland in November 2011.
Review by Scott Mc Keating for Brainwashed
Friday, 04 November 2005: There's something about the music of Thighpaulsandra that is quintessentially British sounding, but this compositional four-track spurt from the Welsh Valleys doesn't rely on stirringly pompous anthems or traditional folk instrumentation to do it. There’s an audible grandness of sound to Chamber Music that evokes some kind of depraved royalty, and when combined with the sinister darker side to this amiable bright collaborator of the stars, there lies the unique futurepast hybrid of Thighpaulsandra’s sound. Stepping away from the improv of Rape Scene (but keeping the theme of two-faced album titles) hasn’t altered his musical world all that much and there are strong similarities to that release here despite the songs here having been written and rehearsed; his own description of the album as ‘four men in a room playing’ defies its odd nature. There are many things I’d expect three men to get up to in a room with Thighpaulsandra, and this LP isn’t one of them. The four intrepid players begin at the edge of Quatermass’s pit for the seven-minute mental health ride of “Cast in Dead Homes.” It’s a typical Thighpaulsandra composition in that you never know what’s the around the next audio corner as he explores imaginary landscapes with a reliable palette of après-prog instrumentation. Like an unravelling Hammer Horror theme there’s always an element of restraint in the song’s theatrical lurching xylophone and ribcage played melody that extends across the whole LP. The spectre of Tangerine Dream lurks on both “A Blizzard of Altars” and “Bleeding Text for the Cripplethrush,” whose analogue based sounds are slowly filtered through personalized hybrid processors and begin to betray their origins turning up as warped digital conundrums. The erratic swarm of ingredients continues on and ends up including a brief Eastern European/Edgar Allen Poe-style soliloquy alongside a theremin and the sound of fox hunt horns. It even has the temerity to unashamedly end with a section of conservative organ/rock guitar soloing in the finest spirit of prog. Further highlighting his ability to handle a tune and his empathy with space music “The Unwilling Wardens of Ice” takes the long route of fourteen and a half minutes to lay down some eerie and indistinct curved notes. As expected he ends the song and the album in relative crashing chaos despite taking several almost symphonic whale song-style turns. Judging by his recent release schedule I’ll bet on him confounding expectations again on another release before the year is out.
Review from Piccadilly Records
"Chamber Music" is Thighpaulsandra's latest venture and combines musique concrète, quasi-dimensional electronics, ravaged hums, prog-like dynamics,atmospheric tones and all manner of different instruments nodding eithergently or abruptly into focus. His most cohesive work to date, to simply declare it the result of an active imagination would still fall far short of giving it enough credit. This highly accomplished and visionary musician has been known for his working with groups and artists as diverse as Coil, Spiritualized and Julian Cope as much as his own albums during recent enough memory.
Review by Frans de Waard for Vital Weekly
Last year I confessed not being the biggest fan of Coil, when I first reviewed music of Thighpaulsandra, so I am all to aware of his musical output with Coil, with Julian Cope (but still to my surprise the release by Anal, 'Zero Beats Per Minute') or his solo work. 'Double Vulgar 2' (see Vital Weekly 467) was a pretty long affair altogether, with an overload of guitar solos, too many drums and all that, and in that respect 'Chamber Music' is easier to grasp. Only four tracks, spanning just under fifty minutes. Thighpaulsandra plays the majority of instruments on each track, mainly all sorts of things with keys. Various other people play guitars, laptops, piano, violin and vocals. I must admit that even when I enjoyed this record better than the previous release, I still have to get used to the music of Thighpaulsandra. It's all a very crowded bunch, with stuff happening on many levels. On the side of instruments, but also computer treatments and in the form of post-production. The semi modern classical approach is no doubt a big influence on Thighpaulsandra, and that's the nicest thing here. Pieces move back and forth, sounds drop in and out, but there is always ear for the structure of the piece. Unlike 'Vulgar Music 2' things don't seem to be getting out of control or lost in too long space jams. 'A Blizzard Of Altars' is the best piece of this lot, with it's highly concentrated playing and of a great intensity and soundtrack like character. If the recent stuff is more of this, I am surely willing to hear more.
Review by DJ Astro for Psychotronic Zone
Thighpaulsandra is a British musician who has played and recorded a lot with for example Julian Cope, Coil and Spiritualized. This fellow has tons of releases both as a solo artist and in collaboration with other folks. Chamber Music is his latest solo album, and the first one I’ve ever heard. The album includes really weird and experimental ambient music that has been played mostly with different synthesizers and keyboards, but the album also features several guests on other instruments like guitar, violin and a little bit of drums, as well. The bit disoriented and restless “Last in Dead Homes” starts the album, “funny music”, said my three-year-old son about this track that seems to be pretty much improvisation-based! The same kind of stuff continues also on the next track called “A Blizzard of Altars” that is strange, electronic ambient. Before the seven minute marker a very convincing speech begins. There is some chamber music feel on the third, minimal piece ”Bleeding Text for the Cripplethrust” that, in addition to the synths, has some French horn, guitar and short wave radio on it. The album is ended with the more harmonious ”The Unwilling Wardens of Ice” that starts off in a peaceful and beautiful mood, but after 12 minutes it goes into more experimental, weird and tangled direction. This album leaves me a bit quiet and out of breath and makes my eyeballs roll in their sockets, since this really is so strange. Not entirely of this planet.
Review by Steve Pescott for Terrascope
Next up comes a couple of releases from the Sussex-based Lumberton Trading Company, the source of the ‘Worn to a Shadow’ CD/picture disc by E.A.R. (the second functioning head of Mr Sonic Boom). First off it’s the latest solo release from an artist with associations as wide ranging as Coil, Spiritualized and Julian Cope. The sleeve of Thighpaulsandra’s ‘Chamber Music’ CD shows a rather intimidating black and white photo of a shooting party – their demeanour suggesting a liking for human prey rather than buckshot for a buck rabbit. The title’s classical references are now further cast aside as we glance down the twin chambers of a 12 bore on the CD’s face. An uncompromising ride seems thankfully on the cards. Thighpaulsandra deploys a whole host of obscure (to me) electronic keys such as a SteimLisaX, RSF Kobol and a Metasynth, alongside the more familiar (old school?) Serge Modular Synth and the EMS VCS3 to create a melange of dense musique concrète that’s bolstered by an “all gates open” approach to synthetic texturing. In fact those last two squawk-boxes give a quotient of the material a distinct INA-GRM feel (Bernard Parmegiani in particular). But there’s precious little gallictronix found in the opening ‘Cast in Dead Homes’ which explores hypothetical sci-fi scores reminscent of Trunk Records’ ‘Tomorrow People’ soundtrack and yet it’s Delia Derbyshire-shaped toneworld is expansive enough to allow into its fold luminous guitar (c/o Martin Schellard) and Tom Edwards’ marimba lines which conjure up images of Artie Tripp or even the undervalued Ruth Underwood (of the seventies Mothers of Invention). ‘A Blizzard of Altars’ follows, flecked in a cold, nervy sweat, triggered by unexpected dead ends and sheer vertical drops is then made X-rated by a verse or two of apocalyptic gum flap by, ahem, ‘Weremia de Spaceboy’. This could be Spiritualized’s Jason Pierce doing his finest Peter Lorre impression, but then again – nah! ‘Bleeding Test of the Cripple Thrush’ pitches Thigh’s blurting French horn against further marimba punctuation, Pinhas-like guitar and Vocodered detonations. ‘The Unwilling Wardens of Ice’ closes as a spellbinding glacial largo. Frank Naughton’s violin, Martin Shellard’s icy pedal steel and Thigh’s Mellotron complement each other so well that a temperature drop in your immediate vicinity is inevitable. A great thing and more gripping in its relative simplicity than ‘Eskimo’, that other white-on-white travelogue by the Residents.