Schnauser: Protein For Everyone

The Bristol troupe raise the steaks with some prime new cuts!

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Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Bristol, the home of trip hop, is also harbouring this ingenious little trio of prog-psych renegades, now on their fifth release and also in the running for the Limelight gong at this year’s Prog Awards.

Originally a side project for ex-Lucky Bishop Alan Strawbridge, Schnauser have become the main event, aided and abetted by Duncan Gammon (aka Lord Gammonshire) on keyboards and the mutton-chopped Jasper Williams on drums. This seven-track collection is the follow-up to 2012’s Where Business Meets Fashion and, although less poppier than its predecessor, it remains an outlet for their lyrical observations of the quirks that lurk beneath the banalities of our daily existence.

The meandering organ intro that heralds _Grey Or Blue _is eventually interrupted by an airy vocal reflecting on the shifting moods of everyday life, the baroque melodies giving it a sinister Floydian vibe and cascading into even squelchier keyboard. Twists and turns such as this recur throughout the album and make for a fascinating, unpredictable listen.

The title track has a characteristically floaty chorus which disguises an unsettling description of selling body parts for meat; a nightmarish delve into the dystopian world of the songwriter’s imagination, emphasised by the creepy fairground organ. They’re partial to an extended keyboard solo or two, but it generally leads somewhere intriguing.

Another flight of fancy, The Reason They’re Alive is sung from the standpoint of a queen bee and taking in her lifespan, from building the honeycomb to watching her ‘daughters’ fly away. The melancholic Split meanwhile is the poppiest track on the album, albeit wistful rather than sunny.

Buon Natalie is an approximation of ‘Buone Natale e felice Anno Nuovo’, the Italian ‘Merry Christmas and Happy New Year’ greeting, sung in cod Italian and with a mandolin evoking the Faces’ Ooh La La. Whatever they were thinking, it’s an enjoyable musical moment.

By now you will have noticed that they’re fond of a spot of word play, hence the mammoth closing track, Disposable Outcome, which begins with an airline-style announcement and unfolds into a tale of romantic intrigue. In a garden centre. It’s a typically mundane setting for their surreal humour. (Apparently, as part of the ‘meat concept’, album buyers will be entered into a ‘meat raffle’.)

We were sadly unable to locate the ‘inappropriate glockenspiel’ vaunted in its sleeve notes, but nevertheless, by anyone’s standards, Protein For Everyone is innovative and imaginative food for thought. Claudia Elliott

Claudia Elliott

Claudia Elliott is a music writer and sub-editor. She has freelanced for BBC Radio 2's Sounds of the 60s, Uncut, History of Rock, Classic Rock and The Blues magazine. She is a 1960s music specialist.