Here’s an odd one, 12 Rounds Business / Pleasant Smell, on 10″. Never heard of ’em? I’m not surprised unless you were a real doyen of the UK indie scene circa ’96; not that I was, but I still picked this one up somehow, despite the slightly gruesome cover photo – yes, man shorts I’m talking to you! However someone here went on to fame and acclaim, winning an Oscar no less.
12 Rounds were put together by singer Claudia Sarne, Adam Holden and Atticus Ross when they met whilst working on, 1537 fave, Bomb the Bass Clear. To these ears they were formed out of the same sonic soup as Sneaker Pimps, Portishead and Morcheeba, some guitar, some beats and a female singer. They have a good clear sound, some interesting bits and bobs and a little guitar dissonance bubbling underneath, but something’s missing here, to give it that extra aural penetration*, it is all a bit workaday.
The best thing about ‘Pleasant Smell’ is the sampled dog growl they use at the start of the track and at points in-between, Barry Adamson another fave of mine, plays bass on this track. My real problem though are the vocals , Claudine Sarne, manages to sound like a parody of Beth Gibbons, or a totally pissed-up Alison Goldfrapp – her vocals are almost entirely made up of mannerisms and sound far too posed, as though she enunciating every little thing. She pretty much sings entirely in italics. It’s distracting to say the least. Over the double A side, ‘Business’ is more of a guitar belter, stealing some of Chris Novoselic’s bass sound and adding a lot of loud/QUIET dynamics, again it is okay but lacking a spark.
12 Rounds released their LP Jitter Juice shortly afterwards, which with minor variations was more of the same to me it sounded like they were trying far too hard and they soon vanished from sight. Atticus Ross, of course going on to fame with Trent Reznor who had been brought in to produce 12 Rounds’ third and unreleased LP as a collaborator on lots of Nine Inch Nails albums and as a very sought after remixer. But it is his soundtrack work with Reznor that has garnered the most acclaim, winning the Oscar for The Social Network and producing this year’s acclaimed Gone Girl soundtrack amongst others.
You wouldn’t see that coming from these ten inches**.
*my shameless bid for porno search referrals continues apace.
** see above note.