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Schnauser: Protein For Everyone

More sepia-tinted surrealism from progtastic Bristolians.

Meat-obsessed West Country whimsy merchants Schnauser sound like they have just stepped out of a faded-postcard timewarp of early 1970s prog-folk, vintage surrealism and Victorian bandstand psychedelia.

Drawing on an illustrious art-rock lineage that includes Soft Machine, Todd Rundgren, Syd Barrett and XTC, their fragrant brand of avant-easy listening veers a little too close to retro-kitsch in places. But behind the English eccentric jumble-sale tweeness of their fourth album lies a hint of menace and a keen lyrical gift for teasing out the rich weirdness of everyday life in the spirit of the late, great Bonzos frontman Viv Stanshall.

Fronted by the Bristol-based couple Alan Strawbridge and Holly McIntosh, Schnauser clearly have one foot in the experimental jazz-pop realm too, pumping out sleek neo-Krautrock grooves reminiscent of Stereolab or Broadcast on the Farfisa-funk cannibal fantasy Protein For Everyone and the sleek sci-fi bossa nova The Reason They’re Alive.

Opening with a thank you announcement to listeners in the style of a flight attendant, the epic-length finale Disposable Outcomes moves through various tempo changes and cinematic sound effects before settling into a macabre short story about a romantically obsessed stalker at a garden centre. Trippy, slightly sinister, mostly excellent.

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.