Understanding Music


Fire Records reissues as part of its Embers series A.C. Acoustics' Understanding Music, originally released in 2000. Coming together in Glasgow in 1990, Caz, Paul and Roger Ward (guitar) dabbled in noisy experimentalism with a line-up that included saxophone and violin. They played their first gig supporting Fire's drone-rock heroes Spacemen 3. The band soon gravitated to a series of supports with various indie hopefuls of the day, releasing extremely limited edition, exquisitely-packaged bootlegs. Then they split up -- until Paul decided to give it a second go, bringing back Caz and Roger and drafting in Dave from fellow Glasgow band Thrum, and they recorded the 5 track Wrist Eye demo in the summer of 1992. The new songs were more focused, fusing blistering guitar pyrotechnics with Paul's vulnerable, hypnotic vocals. A second demo enticed Elemental to sign the band and, with a support slot with PJ Harvey under their belts, the "Sweatlodge"/"MV" blue vinyl 7" was released in December 1993. The single prompted Melody Maker to hail the "two helpings of genius on one platter," while NME thought it "absolutely beezer." The single also caught the ear of John Peel, who was moved to play their debut session three times, commenting, "Am I hallucinating, or are this band truly brilliant?" The band's first full tour followed, as did a debut Evening Session. Recorded in early 1994, the 7 track mini-album Able Treasury garnered ecstatic reviews. NME praised the "mixture of the instantly recognizable and the frankly lunatic that makes A.C. Acoustics such a vital prospect." Later that year, the Hand Passes Plenty EP was released to similarly rave reviews. The EP's four tracks were further evidence of the steady evolution of the Acoustics' sound, with bruised melodies and insistent hooks brought to the fore. Roger was replaced by Mark, who had been spotted in local band Big Burd, and was asked to join the cause. The new line-up set about writing and recording the new album, with a break for a storming Reading appearance. Summer 1996 saw the band reward their patient fans with the album Victory Parts, which received critical acclaim across the board, with MOJO stating, "this is rock as art, and Victory Parts is a near masterpiece." After the critical acclaim of the killer single "Stunt Girl" and album, A.C. Acoustics and Elemental Records went their separate, amicable ways and the band signed to YOYO Records. In 1999, two EPs, Like Ribbons and She's With Stars were released and the band was also one of the first to use the internet as a means for releasing a free downloadable track through their web site. The band returned to the studio to begin work on the "not difficult" third album. At the beginning of 2000, A.C. Acoustics recorded a new full-length album, Understanding Music. Again, the critics were won over by the album, with Uncut calling it "an addictively strong album," and MOJO made it their album of the month.