Premiere: Stump’s whispering foil Kev Hopper returns for Dimple Discs – hear the rubbery baroque pop excellence of ‘The Dog Walker’

Kev Hopper

STUMP were one of those ultra-Peel bands, like The Noseflutes, Bogshed, The Fire Engines, who sorta belonged to the (no doubt press-confected) ‘shambling’ movement of the Eighties – Beefheartian, collapsed, askance, freakishly fun, revealing truths about the world from an oblique perch above it all.

They had an all-too-brief moment of notoriety in the public eye with the warped transatlantic tourist critique, “Buffalo”, with that unforgettable fish ‘n’ chips refrain, but they were so much more than some one-off supposed novelty single; for the full, scabrous and (Mick, David) Lynchian intent of their vision, may I direct you, if you please, to the magisterial “Tupperware Stripper”.

Enough already. If you missed ’em, there’s plenty time to catch up with their catalogue – it isn’t huge but it’s generally perfectly performed; a few 12″s, a mini-album (Quirk Out – start here), and an album proper for Chrysalis, A Fierce Pancake, after which they were chewed up and spat out by the man like a wad of Anglo-Irish chewing gum, as so many great bands were at that time when they didn’t sell a zillion in the Dutch East Indies.

Besides the sprawling, writhing poetry of frontman Mick, the other quirking out powerhouse in the band was bassist Kev Hopper. Check those chords, note clusters and deliciously rubbery underpinnings.

He’s gone on to release a clutch of eccentric and wunnerful solo albums over the past eeesh, 30-odd years (Whispering Foils is a personal fave, for that theremin-like mastery of the musical saw), mainly categorizable as spanning the worlds of experimental and pop, and brimming with that addictively squelchy bass.

He’s also served valuable contributory time with the audio/visual electronic quartet Ticklish, with Phil Durrant, Richard Sanderson and Rob Flint; and currently wefts the four strings in the self-alluded odd-prog-crypto-funk trio Prescott, with Keith Moline Of Pere Ubu, Rhodri Marsden of Scritti Pollitti and Frank Byng. They’re weird. This is not, nor ever shall be, a criticism.

But it’s also nigh time for Kev’s first solo album in almost four years: he’s joined Cathal Coughlan over at the great Dimple Discs, from whence, come February 25th, he sets sail with Sans Noodles, a full-fat dozen tracks of his latest akimbo musings.

Wait! Tis not all, fine friends! Herein he brings forth a track, excellently tremulous, baroque pop beauty à la High Llamas dripping and warping like a Dali clock: it’s called “The Dog Walker” and it’s the kind of stroll around the park you need.

Kev observes: “As it’s the 32nd anniversary of my first solo album, Stolen Jewels, I thought it might be fun to revisit and update aspects of that album with this new release – namely the naive ‘pots and pans style’ (as I call it) sampling of the era, which I’m still incredibly fond of. 

“With new technology and greater computing power the art of sampling has changed a lot since 1989, but to this day I’m still excited by the early notion that you could pluck a sound from nature and pitch it on the keyboard to make tunes. This characteristic remains the original source of intrigue and wonder for me. 

“On Sans Noodles the odd sounds that result from this process are mixed in with twangy guitar, bass and a lot of faux-vocal sequencing and ‘formanting’ (or vowel sounds) to provide a surreal and sometimes perverse, organic source for the melodies.”

Kev Hopper’s Sans Noodles will be released by Dimple Discs digitally and on CD on February 25th; make sure you scurry along, now, and clutch yours close at Bandcamp.

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