U.K. veterans of electronic dance music Andrew Weatherall and Keith Tenniswood take their Two Lone Swordsmen sound into a different direction on From the Double Gone Chapel, an effort to avoid the genre’s well-known cliches. Weatherall, formerly of the celebrated experimental techno group Sabres of Paradise, offers some spoken vocals on the duo’s third full-length for Warp, and Tennison plays intermittent guitar and bass. The live elements suggest more of a direct approach to making dance music, but the results are raw and a little harsh at times.
Raw drums and a rather dreary and treated bass line set an early precedent for From the Double Gone Chapel. This application of live rhythm follows throughout, as a number of drummers take a stab at accompanying the Swordsmen’s droning but quirky dance numbers. The live bass runs redundantly along most of the selections, and because Tenniswood favors a particular tone — and alters said tone only slightly from track to track — the foundation of the songs becomes somewhat same sounding.
The intentional muddy production work adds to the stripped-down theme that the duo is going for here. But it’s sometimes at the listener’s expense, if said paying customer is not accustomed to this approach. The pair dresses things up for a pop-punk cover of the Gun Club’s “Sex Beat,” but the muddy approach reemerges at the chorus, when the live drums enter slightly out of time. Damn intriguing but a challenge all the same.
“The Valve” and closer “Driving with My Gears in Reverse (Only Makes You Move Further Away),” along with the lazy opening track are among the album’s stronger moments. In its spacey hypnotic complexity, “Driving … ” is the coupling of live and machine that the Swordsmen ventured out for on this record. The distance and unique perspective that the title comically suggests is conveyed here in wandering bowed guitar notes and side melodies introduced at reasonable and random interludes. Wielding only their swords and whatever other live instruments are available, the act concludes the album successfully with this risky composition.