LoMB makes music which is the equivalent of bumping into someone who seems vaguely familiar but who you can’t for the life of you remember where you know them from. And so Cuts reminds me of many things, suggests that we probably have a similar sort of record collection, have watched the same bands live but is in turn not quite like any of them. Yes, the unholy trinity of Cave, Cohen and Waits have obviously left their sonic fingerprints on the music, but it is more to do with the attitude and delivery than any direct steal. The same blend of beauty and melancholy, of grit and grace, of integrity and intensity runs through the songs, the same dark, soul searching reflections are being pursued here.
At one extreme, songs such as Who Knows? is a slow and sultry, blues-infused grover, one that snakes towards the listener rather than comes at them head on, at the other Mario comes from a more indie place, one blessed with jaunty, pop sensibilities but still exhibiting LoMB’s natural tendencies to keep things raw and raucous. Not for him the slick and comfortable production that puts the sugar coating onto songs to make them easy to swallow for the mainstream pop picker. This is music for the more discerning taste, for people that understand that the real beauty of such songs is found in the rough edges and the strange inclusions that fall between the notes and in the breathing spaces between the words. Just listen to This is Not a Song Written For You, where what is going on behind the main musical line is just as beguiling as its main thrust.
The big surprise is his take on Bowie’s Five Years. It takes a brave man to cover such an iconic song but instead of trying to compete with the original, LoMB instead brings it into his own equally strange world, makes it sound even more disembodied, even more apocalyptic and does so without ever once throwing out a Ziggy-esque move.
It’s a great collection of songs, but then this is someone who has been rubbing shoulders and sharing stages with the great and good of the alternative scene for many years now so it is only to be expected that he knows how to make music that is both weirdly familiar yet refreshingly original. And that, I guess, is the real art of it. Don’t give them what they want, give them what they didn’t realise they wanted and do it wrapped up in just enough familiarity that they feel like this is a long lost underground work that they have been listening to for years. Pretty soon it will be.