Album Review: Illness - Some Vegetable Waste

on Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Words: Simon Opie

Illness – 'Some Vegetable Waste' (UK Release Date: 21 Feb '11)

Illness hail from Brighton and are label mates with Crooked Mountain, Crooked Sea whose EP 'I Watched It From The Roadside', was an excellent surprise (well for me, anyway) in 2010. Illness are a two-man band, with Spencer on guitar and Emilio on drums, and they already have a couple of EPs to their credit – both released in 2010 – from which 'Paper Cut' is probably their premium song.

They play what you might call Math Blues Instrumentals with a sometimes smeared, sometimes chiming Telecaster laid over articulated, energetic drums which track the guitar lines for a little over two minutes a song.

I guess by now you will have been able to decide if this, their new album is potentially for you or not. Two-man bands are an acquired taste (I am thinking Om, The Black Keys, Lightning Bolt...) and they generally take time to come to the boil because of course it's not as easy as it looks to make music with limited resources. Essentially you have traded diversity for agility.

It’s true that excepting the afore-mentioned 'Paper Cut', Illness’ EPs are on the unrelenting side and the songs though dynamic, lack variety, but 'Some Vegetable Waste' whilst it may not be the best-titled album ever, is a considerable step up for Illness.

There is the extended workout of 'You The User' which begins to redefine the space they can play in, the jazzed-out ending of 'B For Bovril' (cool song), the trading riffs on 'Mike vs Pastiche' (which I had hoped was actually called Mike vs Pastis) and generally the album sounds like a band beginning to take themselves more seriously in the belief that they just might be on to something.

The sense of a developing interplay between the elements, on 'Lint' for example, brings a welcome complexity and tension to the music, and whilst there are still moments of monotone ('Cleveland Police') there’s really a sense of moving from black and white to colour transmission.

'Some Vegetable Waste' undoubtedly has a relatively narrow appeal and I also think I'd prefer to see Illness live. Despite this, for those inclined to listen, it should reward the effort. Especially as the album's free to download.


STREAM: You The User by Illness

STREAM: Navigable rivers by Illness

'Some Vegetable Waste' is available to download for free at the band's Tumblr page. Order the vinyl here.

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