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Two Lone Swordsmen

From the Double Gone Chapel
Warp

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In the London home studio that Two Lone Swordsmen record in, there sits a weathered drum kit haunted by ghosts of its once-great previous owners. Jah Wobble, the mad scientist of world dub who might as well have been a reserve-team Sex Pistol, once used it in one of his bands; before that, punk and post-punk also-ran Killing Joke had the thing. And while those spirits certainly float deceptively close to the surface of From the Double Gone Chapel, there's a more distant cousin, a Ghost of Christmas That Might Have Been, who shades the background: Bill Drummond, the annoyingly brilliant pop-as-performance-art maestro of The KLF, once tried his damnedest to get the briefly vacant job as Killing Joke's singer. Had that electro-rock trickster succeeded, the results (before the inevitable implosion) could have turned out somewhat similar to Double Gone.

 

Two Lone Swordsmen are no newcomers to pop's musical-hats game themselves. As Radioactive Man, Keith Tenniswood makes a fine living deejaying electro to massive crowds of worshippers. Fellow Swordsman Andrew Weatherall's resume is more complex: With the Boy's Own label and zine, he helped pioneer acid house; by producing Screamadelica for Primal Scream, he helped pioneer dance rock; with Sabres of Paradise, he joined the live rock experience, and created a series of alter egos that resulted in Two Lone Swordsmen's two previous full-lengths and one remix album.

 

None of which has much to do, musically, with the dark post-punk rock of From the Double Gone Chapel. Sure, you could argue that the first single, "Faux," is dance-floor-ready electro-rock, or that the squelchy dub lurch of "The Valve" is just the kind of thing a deejay would make in his half-drunk spare time. (Allegedly, Double Gone was recorded largely in spur-of-the-moment jags after the neighborhood pub closed.) But what about "Sex Beat," a Gun Club cover, the Joy Division-y bass excursion "Damp," or "Punches and Knives," a murderous ballad that could've come from The Birthday Party's cutting-room floor?

 

Obviously, From the Double Gone Chapel is just Weatherall and Tenniswood getting their post-punk kicks: "Sick When We Kiss" is almost a parody of dark electro, with its metallic synth lines and gasping Ian Curtis vocals. But that doesn't mean the record isn't great. It's perhaps a testament to this duo that even their semi-vanity releases -- concocted in that barroom-discussion, "remember those bands like ..." manner -- are packed with originality and musicality. (Weatherall plays the singer here, for the first time in his career, and the results are worthy of any angry young man's idolatry.) Somewhere in the background, these Two Lone Swordsmen are laughing at their own mad-scientist pop creations, their Frankenstein's monster of gothic blues, electro, Killing Joke and Jah Wobble.

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