‘Cuts’ is nine tracks of avant-garde musical exploration from Giuseppe Lombardo – LoMB – a graphic artist and photographer who has been around the music scene since the early ‘90s in various incarnations. Back then his vehicles were post-punk and new wave bands – sharing stages with the likes of Sonic Youth and Wire give an indication of his pedigree. That influence is still evident and why this nine album is something of an interesting challenge. What LoMB offers on ‘Cuts’ will resonate with some readers on this site but it is fair to say that this is probably not his natural habitat.
That said, it is not outlandishly out of place, it is just a record for those times when the urge to explore something else, something edgy is strong. In the Hamlet-lite exploration of intrigue and power struggle that is Lion King, at one point Mufasa professes to Simba ‘Everything the light touches is our kingdom’ and when Simba asks ‘what is that shadowy place?’ Mufasa simply replies ‘you must never go there’. ‘Cuts’ is what you listen when you decide to explore the shadowy place anyway. Melody doesn’t come easy on the record, it is eclipsed by a restless menace; these are songs that lurk behind doors your better judgement tells you not to open, but somehow there is a thrill when you do.
LoMB is Italian and his thick accent is evident as he sings, a quick round of word association could not fail to throw up ‘Grizzled’ and ‘Visceral’, his is a demeanour reminiscent of dimly lit taverns where philosophical aphorisms are swapped as easily as town gossip and coarse tobacco. If you like your music gravely like Waits, dark like Cave, jagged like Bowie then you will find pleasure in LoMB’s world. He sounds like he is singing through steel wool transmogrifying his vocal into something abrasive, rubbing the senses raw. When the backing band don’t sound like they are banging on the pipes (‘I don’t want to call’) then they are refusing to acknowledge that distortion pedals have off switches; the post-punk Stooges influence is clearly not one LoMB shakes off easily. This is not to say that Cuts owes more the Throbbing Gristle that Leonard Cohen, these songs straddle the county line separating dystopia from fresher climes; ‘Who Knows’ is built on a snaking blues foundation, ‘What Does it Matter’ is acoustic (albeit with what sounds like sawing in the background).
It is no surprise maybe that when LoMB throws in a cover it is Bowie he chooses. But interestingly given the penchant for patchwork Bowie song building style of later Bowie, the cover he chooses is ‘’ an altogether more conventional composition. And yet he, as they say, ‘makes it his own’ undeniably recognisable, but pushed and twisted to fit LoMB’s agenda- a slowed down apocalyptic rendition.
An outpost maybe in this country of Americana, a pioneer striking out to stake a claim to live by new rules. Some may seek to avoid the eccentricities, but stop by and listen, there is an interesting story here.