Tumbleweeds roll through a dusty town, the barroom doors clatter back and forth in the wind and the Ennio Morricone soundtrack rattles with a raucous choir. It’s not, however, a cheroot chewing man with no name who stumbles into view – rather it is Ruud Slingerland, the Dutch multi-instrumentalist behind the Dia del Mercado name. Another Clumsey Mile (and, by-the-by, that is the given spelling) is a selection of five new songs taken from a return to Slingerland’s musical roots – putting together tracks home recorded in his living room. Although clearly tapping into a late sixties- early seventies feel with his spaghetti-western inspired arrangements, Slingerland’s songs are not modern cowboy tales – there’s no “bang-bang you’re dead” here. The songs are short stories from a darker Americana – Another Clumsey Mile is a disturbing stalker’s tale, self-delusionally painting himself as something less repellent than the unsavoury bit players that augment the story’s cast.
Grandpa has been hit has an almost wryly light hearted feel to it – as it describes the fall out from an old man being knocked down by a horse drawn milk cart. Ripples of unease spread from this collision as the news is passed, engulfing friends and family: “policeman’s at our door what’s he telling ? Policeman’s at our door, Mother’s yelling”. The multi-layered vocals make for a ghoulish Greek chorus. Unsettling is the word. Indeed it’s the word for this whole EP – it’s the aural equivalent at looking at creation through a smoke fogged glass – there’s a feel of the randomness and predominant misfortune of life in an unpredictable and chaotic world, unlit by good intentions. The echoing guitar work, the Morricone-esque big brush strokes and the effective use of multi-layering of the vocals makes for something distinctly other, a dark and disturbing other but also a compelling and unique sounding other.
Dia del Mecardo would like to show you the darker side of the world. A fascinating, if not uplifting, listen. Memorable though.