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Renaldo And The Loaf - Gurdy Hurding album review

Thirty years on, the Portsmouth duo still boggle and bewilder, brilliantly

Widely regarded as the English equivalent of The Residents, Renaldo And The Loaf last released an album nearly 30 years ago. Back then, they often seemed determined to confound as much as entertain.

With a sound that, although Residents-like at times, occasionally suggested that drunk surrealists had been let loose in a studio to make the most wilfully annoying music, they were always an acquired taste and Gurdy Hurding does little to attract anyone beyond those who wring perverse enjoyment from the band’s skewed sonic sketches. Time has gifted the duo with enhanced songwriting skills, however, and a significantly less antagonistic approach means that a lot of these new songs are oddly catchy: the fidgety electro-funk of Scent Of Turnip sounds suspiciously like a hit, albeit only in the fever dreams of a mad scientist. In contrast, A Convivial Ode and The Moment Is Lost are truly beautiful and redolent of Penguin Café Orchestra at their off-kilter best but filtered through Zappa’s synclavier subversion. Patient fans will love every demented second, of course, but Gurdy is also as credible a starting point for newcomers as any, particularly if you haven’t been soundly bewildered recently.