Seeing as lo-fi is so fashionable nowadays, the climate is right for the posthumous release of a new compilation of Marc Bolan demos adequately named Demos From the Underworld. These tracks contrast our preconception of Marc Bolan as the monolithic glam-rocker with one that is gritty and highly personal. Naturally, the tracks have a certain raw intimacy that just isn't captured on the finished product: it is a more impromptu & candid performance, revealing a world of acoustic pop that jangles and hooks free of the sterilization of music that characterizes sleek, big-label albums.
Swahili Boogie Woogie sets the tone, instantly entrancing with its lackadaisical guitar-strumming and swooning vocal melody reminiscent of a tribal African chorus. Golden Belt is a classic Bolan composition featuring his trademark staccato strumming awash in a tasteful amount of reverb & fuzz that allows ample room for Bolan's crooning. The stunning lyricism in All Alone #2 conveys a dystopian world that speaks to anyone plagued by the ennui of suburbia. This feeling is enhanced as Bolan weaves a warbling twelve-string lead (a recurring theme) seamlessly into the composition in a peculiar, off-time fashion.
The closing track weird strings is exactly that: weird. It is an atypical Bolan composition, in that resembles a John Cage performance: synth strings and a pulsating tremolo backed by a menagerie of obscure, textual sounds, which give way to a kraut beat. By the song's end, the ambiance has transformed into that of a deranged discotheque fueled by a droning bass kick. This compilation affirms Marc Bolan's relevance in the modern musical underworld; and if not, so what - it's lo-fi.
Review made by Josh Cobb & Stephen Deferrari/2013
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