All around Australia excitement is mounting: society women are slightly breathless, small children and dogs are yapping at nothing, and real estate salesmen are vaguely anxious. Supplies of grandiose hatwear, beard-grooming equipment and pig fat are running low.
Fresh from their fifth triumphant tour of the UK and Denmark, where they performed a mammoth 40 dates, The Spooky Men’s Chorale are returning home to unleash a new album that amusingly, unexpectedly, redefines the very genre they invented.
The Spooky Men’s Chorale won the Infinite Bee Gees competition at Australia’s 2013 National Folk Festival with Ba’hari Ghibb. This brilliant mock-Sufi anthem is just one of a dizzying jewel-box of instant new classics to be found on the new album. They send a nod to the Beach Boys (Surfin’), and an imaginary, irascible medieval gastronome (The Baron of Beef), as well as sweet love-notes to various parts of their own anatomy (Foot, Eyebrow and Elbow). There is an impossibly tender love song (The Sweetest Kick), an attempt to distance themselves from New Age nonsense (We are not a men’s group) and two 900-year-old Georgian songs.
As an ensemble noted for left-field musical gambits in shimmering, bass-heavy harmony it has quite possibly outdone itself.
Inspired by the great Georgian male choirs, The Spooky Men were formed in the Blue Mountains in 2001 by Christchurch-born deerstalker-topped impresario Stephen Taberner, and have singlehandedly redefined men’s singing in the interim.
Unafraid to juxtapose pindrop-perfect ballads with hilarious, elephantine renditions of pop classics (Dancing Qveen) and their own repertoire of foolish man anthems (Don’t Stand Between a Man and his Tool), they have lovingly hammered gleeful Australian, NZ and UK audiences with a bankable series of classics. These ultimately became a magnificent song fortress that they would need to burst clean out of, and this album, The Spooky Man in History, is the result.
The Spookies’ sound – warm and grainy as a slab of teak, and their humorous style – deadpan, sly, and always unexpected, find new and wonderful avenues of expression on The Spooky Man in History. The only thing better than hearing the new album is seeing it performed, along with the Spookmeisters’ new line of existential bumfluffery, which is both utterly irrelevant and deeply essential to fully understand the whole beautiful, foolish edifice.
With special guest Karl Farren, Saturday January 4 at the Mullumbimby Civic Hall.
Find this and many other great gigs in Echonetdaily’s North Coast Gig Guide.