Alec K. Redfearn & The Eyesores - "Every Man For Himself & God Against All" (Corleone Records 2003, COR-S-08-03)

From Aural Innovations #29 (October 2004)

Like Henry Cow and its numerous splinter groups (Art Bears, Skeleton Crew, and including as well the excellent solo work of Dagmar Krause and Anthony Moore), Alec K. Redfearn & The Eyesores are practitioners of a sometimes heavily politicized form of neo-chamber rock, which means they possess something far more dangerous than your average rock group — an ideology. As with similar collectives — Art Zoyd and Univers Zero, for instance — Redfearn & The Eyesores create finely honed, exacting compositions. But whereas Zoyd and their brethren derive much of their iconoclastic density from traditional classical and contemporary European avant-garde influences, Redfearn & The Eyesores opt for a somewhat gentler approach to RIO-styled art rock, somewhat more akin perhaps to Italy’s Stormy Six and the aforementioned Skeleton Crew. There are times, as with songs like "Cold Little Knife" and "Screeching Halt", when The Eyesores could almost be described as avant-folk. And Redfearn’s often biting lyrics and deceptively simple (though not simplistic) compositions reinforce the connection with the singer/songwriter camp. Redfearn is, at times, a brilliant lyricist, as is evidenced by "Mole" wherein he savagely proclaims, "The Lord is not your shepherd and you shall always want ‘til your hunger strips the world bare, pallid and gaunt, and the world is not your oyster, the world is just a shell, just mountains and molehills and tunnels to hell". Existentialism is back in fashion. Using a variety of instruments (accordion, cello, viola, sax, bassoon, trumpet, hurdy gurdy, electronics, as well as the traditional guitar-bass-drums format of conventional rock), Redfearn & The Eyesores move effortlessly from highly experimental electronic pieces ("Coccyx") to Magma-esque trans-klezmer zeuhl-like music ("Black Tar and White Slavery") to some heavy hitting rock with jagged avant edges ("Black Holes"). Defiantly eclectic, Every Man for Himself & God Against All deserves a serious hearing among aficionados of RIO as well as anyone who appreciates musique difficile. Brutal yet beautiful cries from a tormented soul exiled in an indifferent universe.

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Reviewed by Charles Van de Kree

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