[sic] Magazine

AMP – Switched On And Live

The hum of an amp is, of course, quintessential to guitar music. Switch one on and just try resisting its gravitational pull. Formed way back in 1992, London-based veterans Richard F. “Amp” Walker and Karine Charff (Flying Saucer Attack associates both) form the core of AMP the band these days and Switched On And Live, is – no surprises – a series of soundboard captures from various venues in the mid-90s to the mid-00s. It’s kind of a diverse best-of too, featuring full-band takes from the very beginning that faithfully include period gun-for-hire Matt Elliott’s typical squall, as well as Matt Jones’ hypnotic basswork, through to later experiments with regular collaborators Marc Challans and Donald Ross Skinner.

Nominally nine tracks (though the closer barely counts), the earliest remain rather muddy despite mastering efforts, the ethereal shoegaze of “Souvenir”, for example, sighing and moaning around Bristol’s The Hope Centre like a super-crude Sigur Rós demo. Recorded at the same venue, “Le Petit Chat” is in turn a tantric raga, squealing guitar giving way to minimalist, percussive electro. Stripped back to little more than the capture’s raw hum, “Blind Man’s Bluff” from London’s The Luna Club is utterly beautiful when it arrives, Charff’s seductive-but-imperfect vocal a more-than beguiling counterpart to simple acoustic strumming.

Sure to bring back powerful memories for those that were there, the lion’s share of the tracks are grabbed from an evening at The Mezz in Breda in The Netherlands. Counting atmospheric psych-droners and hazy kraut rollers that zone in and lock on amidst the running order, the glitchy chatter of “Fuckliar” threatens to stick out like a sore thumb as it heads off in the direction of Suicide and … yet it doesn’t. Neither, too, does “Whenever” derail the listen as it then veers off into noise-rock and art-punk in the leftfield-most corner of the Sonic Youth-style. It’s weird really how such a disparate collection can run side by side so comfortably. Maybe only God knows at the end of the day how AMP works, but not only does it, it’s downright electric in its execution too.

~Switched On And Live is out now on Sound In Silence. It comes in a limited edition of 200 handmade and hand-numbered copies.~