ALBUM REVIEW: Concretism – ‘Dick and Stewart: Original Soundtrack’

SCARFOLK is a fictional Northern English town created by Richard Littler, a place forever trapped in a 70s’ dystopia.

Starting life as a fake blog by the town council, it soon developed into books, posters and various other parodies. Inspiration came from public information Films and kids’ TV of the era, both of which had good intentions but only served to traumatize an entire generation with their sheer creepiness.

Take The Boy From Space, a series of episodes shown in schools in 1971, as part of Look and Read, the BBC’s educational show. Some bright spark thought an anemic albino alien extra-terrestrial boy who spoke backwards would be a suitable vehicle for improving literary skills in seven-year-olds.

Just to crank up the terror a notch, they got the creator of Catweazle to write it and gave it a twisted, Radiophonic Workshop, analogue synth soundtrack. Times changed, and the ‘cheeky bloke in a colourful sweater, in a broom closet with a puppet’ format took over, but the damage had been done.

Richard Littler is evidently amongst the casualties, and his latest creation, Dick and Stewart, concerns two boys, one of whom is just an eyeball (the rest of him having been destroyed in an accident), and their animated adventures. 

Mighty Boosh’s Julian Barrett provides the narration, and the music is by Chris Sharp who records under the name Concretism. His 2018 album, For Concrete And Country, was hailed as an electronic masterpiece, and a follow-up is planned soon; but in the meantime we have this.

This soundtrack is a collection of short pieces that perfectly capture that eerie, unsettling 70s’ world, where Auntie Beeb was really Big Brother, talking to strangers was a death sentence and railway lines equated mutilation and carnage.

It’s hard to say which tracks are the creepiest; the downright sinister analogue synth pieces (‘”Something Nasty”, “Too Many Teeth”) or the faux-jovial excerpts meant to invoke childhood innocence and frivolity, like “Watching is Normal And Healthy”,which calls to mind The Stranglers’ “Waltz in Black”.

Play School xylophones and flutes juxtapose with John Carpenter riffs, as evil nursery lullabies clash with sleek pneumatic synth pop hisses. 

The album is beautifully packaged and comes as a single-sided white vinyl LP with a UV print on the reverse side.

Dick and Stewart: Original Soundtrack is released on October 6th on Castles in Space Records. Place your order here.

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