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Rogue Jones Rogue Jones
Album: VU
Label: Blinc
Tracks: 10
Website: http://www.roguejones.bandcamp.com

Welcome to the decidedly 'other' sound of Rogue Jones. Husband and wife Ynyr Ifan and Bethan Mai make their own sweet music, only it's not that sweet and - in places at least - not always that musical either, well not in the way that daytime radio would recognise anyway.

Between them they find their way around the Welsh and English vocals on this stringently off-kilter debut album, as well as the piano, drums, glockenspiel, guitar, percussion, trumpet, bass, autoharp and accordion. Having said that, there's still room for Bethan's sister Mari Morgan and Elen Ifan, from the folk group Saron, Ben Isaacs and Jim Deacon, from Kutosis, and Steffan Ebsworth to make their mark on an album that actually emerges from repeated listens as a series of folk noir post-rock soundscapes on which are projected a tapestry of rich lyrical imagery - imagine Bjork boozing with Lau while Kate Bush plays footsie with Sigur Ros. Only a bit odder.

Of course the danger is that when things get too light songs tend to fall down, or sound as if they might and it takes a healthy helping of gall to play with our expectations, taking the breakdown right to the edge before regrouping and pulling it together. Thus, the gentle tings and shimmering of the opening The King Is Dead teeter precariously on the brink before resolving into a strident march towards an illogical conclusion.

The single Human Heart follows a more conventional sonic path, building nicely and luring the listener in with a strong melody, although the lyrics contain one or two notions - duvets made of skin anyone? - that will make some wince. Elsewhere, Afalau inhabits similar territory with a display of conventional tunesmithery The Housemartins would once have been proud of, but Little Pig of Tree and the closing Priscilla are altogether more whimsical affairs.

There's much to commend this and, I suspect, even more to look forward to in the future.

Nick Churchill
www.nickchurchill.org.uk