Review: Rubber Oh ‘Strange Craft’

As we wait for a follow-up to Pigs x7‘s Viscerals, guitarist Sam Grant is keeping us occupied in the meantime with his new side-project Rubber Oh and their debut album Strange Craft. The vast majority of the music is performed by Sam himself with some assistance from two Pigs x7 bandmates as well as Du Blonde‘s Beth Jeans Houghton.

Rubber Oh 'Strange Craft'

The first thing to notice is the eye-catching album cover created by Argentinian artist Santi Zoraidez. Santi‘s website states his work ‘combines digital and reality with great sense of space, colour, light and inventiveness to create top-notch projects’ and on the evidence provided here one can only agree. I have stated in prior reviews to painstakingly tedious degrees about the value of decent album art, thus the colour, vibrancy and sense of fun depicted here was a deciding factor in choosing to review Strange Craft, well that and the involvement of a Pigs x7 member.

If you were expecting earth shattering heavy riffing in the Pigs x7 vein, then opening track Humans is here to quickly dispel you of that notion. What you get instead is a bouncy upbeat psych-pop number with a little funk thrown in. Think early Flaming Lips and Funkadelic, it’s that good. Dust features some nice synth work while Children Of Alchemy runs with some pleasant new-wave and added quirkiness ala Sparks and XTC. Little Demon was released as a single and hints at Sam‘s day job with the doomy rumbling bass ala Joe Preston’s Thrones. The track is quite a bit darker than its predecessors and may mislead some listeners who purchase the album off the back of it that they will be getting more of the same.

Colour Orbit features some rather offbeat jazz style playing in the spirit of James Blood Ulmer. It’s a beautifully blissful mellow piece that will have you envisaging that you’re floating down to earth on a blanket of marshmallows. Hyperdrive Fantasy is described on Rubber Oh‘s Bandcamp page as an ‘unshakeable earworm’ and even the surliest curmudgeon in the stoner and doom scene would find it difficult to not be charmed by its simplicity and hooks. A fantastic number.

High quality ‘pop’ is hard to find, as Eurovision would testify, and it’s therefore a delight to hear it achieved so convincingly here…

Arcade lives up to its name with sounds evoking my childhood spent playing the likes of Frogger, Pac Man and Super Mario Brothers. You’re reminded of bands like Kraftwerk and Yellow Magic Orchestra who created these kinda sounds which they sweetly imagined evoked a then imagined future. To Be The Mariner is an instrumental that feels like a late 60s Woodstock jam, with some added Ray Manzarek organ flourishes. You would think with the countless stoner bands doing the rounds that I would have grown sick of that whole sound, however in Sam’s capable hands, it feels and sounds surprisingly fresh and contemporary.

Nothing is another favourite of mine and demonstrates that the project’s strengths lie with indulging in their dancier tendencies, as with Humans and Hyperdrive Fantasy. You’ll Feel Better In The Morning concludes the album on a trippier psychedelic note and I recommend watching some of Santi‘s art videos on Vimeo when listening to the track, hell, make that the whole album.  

Admittedly it did take a couple of listens before I fully ‘got’ what Sam was going for with this release, however, I’m glad I persevered as on repeated listens, it felt like a natural evolution from the diversity that was initiated on Viscerals. High quality ‘pop’ is hard to find, as Eurovision would testify, and it’s therefore a delight to hear it achieved so convincingly here.

Label: Rocket Recordings
Band Links: Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills