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A Ruff Guide To...Pilgrim Speakeasy Review by


Listening to Pilgrim Speakeasy makes you think of many artists and bands, not necessarily alike in their choice of genre, but rather alike in their skill to move naturally and interestingly from one style to another without the listener feeling as though the creator changes. A bit like Primal Scream, which have brought together quite a heap of styles in a bit over two decades. Or Gonjasufi, who built a rock-psychedelic garage on a grainy foundation of electronic music. A third good comparison is Super Furry Animals; the characteristic organic sibilance and frenzy can also be heard on the new Pilgrim Speakeasy album.

Behind the pseudonym is a Scottish musician who has been living somewhere in eastern Finland for the last four years. A Ruff Guide To... is the third album by this pilgrim; a double album Anarchitecture was released in 2008 and Moon Emperor in 2006. Because of the external properties of the album and the jumble of different styles, it’s easy to think that A Ruff Guide is a collection of songs from here and there, and maybe it is. Nevertheless, the combining base is the album’s soulfully electronic, psychedelic rock music which just happens to be seasoned with a lot of different spices.

Of course, a record with hard rock and electro thumping, jamming and hip-hop beats, mystical preaching and political ponderings, speech samples and beatboxing, too much clapping and too loose bass strings, dissonant chords and overwhelmingly beautiful melodies, flamenco and big band, synthetic sounds, sampling and weird collages, and a singer who in turns sounds like Jarvis Cocker, Gruff Rhys and Alex Kapranos, may sound a bit confusing. But the only thing confusing is how nearly twenty songs like these can make a solid album. Maybe it’s because of the fact that everything on the disk is made by just one man.

Few can create an album of nineteen songs and 78 minutes, which doesn’t feel a second too long, which makes a uniform entity, and which also has a slew of good songs. A Ruff Guide To... goes almost surreptitiously from smoking to ecstasy, from curling up in the studio corner to spreading the word at football stadiums and from England to somewhere in the backwaters of Eastern Finland, taking influences from everything. It’s eclectic, but still charmingly simple. Seems like it’s not such a long way from finding something odd to singing along to it. 


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