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Ant-Bee – Pure Electric Honey

Divine Records

Ant-Bee - Pure Electric HoneyThis is what Time-damaged sounds like and I’m not sure this is a good thing. I don’t believe the sleeve notes any more than I believe the record. Something is very wrong about this record.

Actually, that’s not true at all. In fact, there are too many things that are just right about it. It’s just too… convenient.

A quick confession (for most of you this will come as no surprise): I know nothing about this group and I’m not going to try too hard to find out (clue: I’m not going to try at all). It would make a difference, slightly, as to how I feel about this but no difference at all to how I think about it. If this was a lost classic from 1973 I’d like it a little more (I’m a sucker for lost classics) but it would still be derivative of psychedelic era The Beatles (name-checked in the sleeve notes) and Hawkwind and so on. It would still sound like someone trying hard to get a critic to mention The Beatles and Hawkwind in a review – successfully, as it turns out.

And it would still make me a little sad because, actually, some parts of this album are really quite beautiful. But… God, it gets it so wrong. The sleeve notes (I keep returning to them because I want to look away from the record sleeve, which was put together by an evil ant-designer) suggest that one of Ant-Bee openly admitted to looking at 1,000 Dali paintings in one sitting and, unfortunately, this is exactly what Ant-Bee sounds like. Dali has a massive repository of great, original art but an equally large one of utterly repetitive, cruel, self-parodying, cynical crap; by sitting through a 1,000 of his paintings you’d get the message like you get this one – backwardsy vocals, siiitars, competence, solos that go off on one, slightly dreamy harmonies… and not once do you believe that any of these things are there because they have to be.

I guess I’d say that, at a stretch, this sounds like the records Amorphous Androgynous made when they turned away from techno and ambient and went Full Hippy but I really liked those records because although they also had much of the constituent parts of this album and a distinct retrogressive whiff they put everything together with what seemed like real love and real belief. Ant-Bee don’t even seem to take themselves seriously (Zappa is name-checked but lost in translation), preferring to spar and spat with ideas, playing with them without engaging with them. The real tragedy is that they sound like they really could make a decent psychedelic record but are just too arch to be bothered or maybe too embarrassed at the genre itself. The song titles are pointlessly stupid (a bit Nurse With Wound, though lacking the flair), the surrealism isn’t surreal.

It’s just wrong. Or right. I don’t care because they don’t care. This kind of thing makes me remember that Psychedelia played without belief or wonder is the most unbearable and cynical genre of all. Go buy the latest Acid Mothers spin-off album instead.


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