Grand Union: Spanish Dust Indian Rust


Grand Union’s ‘Spanish Dust Indian Rust’ is a compilation of tracks from the band’s two EPs recorded in 2001. Grand Union were a band born of frustration and grounded in the live experience and these recordings place great value on happenstance and spontaneity. There are weird and wonderful samples, the searching for ‘sounds that may not even be possible’, but now you can hear the band. In some instances (‘Rocks And Sands’, ‘She Lies Down’) recordings of their rehearsals were deemed to have the right vibe and blown up in the studio even if ‘the take’ was captured by the single stereo microphone of a portable minidisc player. The LP opens with ‘Hercules’, a twisted farewell to the 20th Century. Howard Hughes, Elvis, Hendrix, Apollo, Big Oil, TV and The Radio – all the mythical beasts. Floating over the twisting dial a veteran A&R manager bemoans his group for ‘living in a fantasy world and looking for sounds that may not even be possible’. This is the mission statement. ‘The K-loop’ is a sickening riff on the end of a chemical relationship, lurching from some protean sampled form of stuttering Hip Hop into supercharged Rock ‘n’ Roll. And then there’s ‘Rocks And Sands’. The song was written in 2000 about the Luxor massacre of 1997. Rippon himself spent part of his childhood in the Middle East and experienced first hand the tensions and culture clashes – big oil, big heat and big religion. Written from the viewpoint of a suicide bomber the song is a perfect expression of the empty desert at the heart of all violence – ‘it’s all over the rocks, all over the sands’. And then there’s the withering blow to the Western media’s voyeurism, the 24-hour news cycle, embodied by the camera-wielding tourists who became Luxor’s victims. ‘Please Don’t Lie’ is the lonesome prayer of the information age – each of us trying to hold on to something in the face of a digital tsunami. ‘Tumbling Rains’ is a lament over Lucas’s beautiful acoustic guitar work – a different view, another window into the band.’This Is Where You Are’ explores the paranoid anxiety that exists just below the surface of life at the turn of the millennium. ‘She Lies Down’ mixes minidiscs and 80’s synths – all media, all formats blurred into one. ‘Santa Maria’ takes on blind faith in gods and miracles. The LP closes with ‘He’s A Good Man’ – a tender letter to an alcoholic father.