Roman Bezdyk calls St. Albans in Hertfordshire his home but, as his press release suggests, he seems more likely to inhabit an “imaginary fairground ride in an abandoned English seaside resort”. As the title to his first album suggests, ‘Curious Memories’ is one of the most wonderfully bizarre nostalgia trips I have ever encountered.
From the opening salvo of ‘Inter Asylum Cross Country’ and its vintage organ players and easy listening atmosphere to the elegiac send-off ‘Sleep has its Embers’, ‘Curious Memories’ plots a course for the soundtrack to childhood dreams (both good and bad). In between, ‘Dark Forest – Silver Sea’ takes on a glistening dreampop melody and haunted digitised voice samples, there’s also nightmare sci-fi (‘Hobbyhorse’) whilst ‘Lazy London Ways’ recalls the languid summer day sound of so many Cherry Red artists. Of course, not everything Bezdyk throws together gels qute so well. There’s a number of sound collages (‘Steps to the Sun (Part 2)’ for example) that sound ponderous in the context of the album. Where he excels is in the easy (or should that be queasy?) listening approach where ‘Tea for Four’ and ‘Sweetness Coyed’ hint at a time and a place that could never have existed.
All those hanging on for the next Avalanches album should satisfy their needs for a sample-heavy psychedelic trip and investigate ‘Curious Memories’ right away. It’s not quite as pop friendly but its sheer abundance of ideas and obscure references make it ideal for the more adventurous listener.