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coverpic flag Norway - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 4 - 02/22/97

The Last James
Tatra (TAT 035)

The Last James, mind the sequence of the words, has been the pop-vehicle of Lars Pedersen (guitars, bass, mandolin, drums, keyboards, vocals etc.) since 1989. The second half of today's line-up is Haakon Ellingsen (guitars, keyboards, vocals etc.) who joined in 1993. Kindergarten is the third Last James album. Lars is probably better known as a member of Holy Toy, a Norwegian experimental, surrealistic and noisy band throughout the 80s lead by the crazy Polish refugee Andrej Nebb. Lars has also been occupied with his one-man project When, critically acclaimed of at least five bleak and experimental albums, some of which have been distributed abroad by Chris Cutler's Recommended Records.

If When is the dark, nocturnal or lunatic side of Lars Pedersen, the Last James is certainly something completely opposite: bright, sunny and innocent. Kindergarten might be judged as a homage to classic playful pop-tunes of the 1960s. Here are traces of the Beatles, Byrds, Kinks, Small Faces and the horde of pure British psychedelic bands of that era. Some of the melodies seem familiar to a certain extent but I cannot put my finger on the sources of familiarity. The instumentation and sound effects seem quite authentical as well: swirling mellotrons, harmonium sounding like accordion, piano sounding like harpsicord, sitar, lots of phaser and backward effects etc. There's even a string quartet on The King Has Left His Castle, a kind of mixture of Beatles' Eleanor Rigby and Elvis Costello's collaboration with the Brodsky Quartet. The lyrics are mainly simple words about love-affairs and the pros of fleeing back to the innocence of childhood. Personally I'm especially charmed by the pure, merry and simple pop-songs Better Put Some Light In Here and Waiting For The Day composed by Haakon and the beauty of the title-track and the aforementioned The King Has Left His Castle by Lars. Also the short instumental Kurt Weill alike break Drunk is very amusing. And in addition to the 12 titles mentioned on the cover, the CD includes a mysterious thirteenth track even more hilarious psychedelic than any of the others. I say no more...

Kindergarten is hardly an innovative album, but if you're fond of the best of British pop and psychedelic music of the 60s, don't hesitate to send your order to Tatra Records, Box 96, N-1450 Nesoddtangen, Norway. It'll cost you about 150 Norwegian kroner, postage included.

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