Erick Legrand

Freewheeling through time and space, Kris Needs continues his adventures in sound. This month: Erick Legrand

The day before November’s Bandcamp Friday, Nina Walsh asked if I could write words to accompany ‘Mes Amis’, the fourth album she’s created in five years highlighting the extraordinary music of her late partner Erick Legrand, who passed away in 2011.

Nina met French-Algerian drummer “Mad Erick”, as he was known, at messiness-prone London hotspot, the Fortress.

“He was a complete lunatic and absolute trouble, but I fell for him. I knew he only had a certain amount of time left, but we didn’t know how much, so Erick lived his life to the absolute max. We had a lot of fun and learned a lot together.”

Going through Erick’s convoluted archive (named the Akashic Library of Sound by Nina and her studio partner Andrew Weatherall) presented a brain-twisting challenge because “Erick’s filing was so atrocious”.

Before his departure, he had asked Nina to make sure she did something with his music. She recalls the early days of The Woodleigh Research Facility, the outfit she started with Andrew.

“Erick became the invisible third member when we began to delve into his hard drive,” she says. “Literally doors and doors flew open in the badly filed corridors of recordings and programming Erick had squirrelled away over his 20-odd years of creating music. With my own 20-odd years of amassing multitrack tapes in messy file corridors, WRF was born. Erick was almost always there somewhere in the noms de plume Andrew and I had.”

‘Mes Amis’ presents 14 songs Erick composed and titled in honour of friends, family and dogs, and follows ‘Delta 32’, ‘11:11’ and ‘Second Machine From The Sun’. His unruly muse at full anarchic throttle is wrangled by Nina into this startling labour of love, providing vivid insights into Erick’s “slightly distorted yet beautiful mind” and also her recording methods with Andrew.

Shimmering like a lightsaber, ‘Glwadys’ ignites the hedonistic energy that powers each track with the tower-toppling force of Godzilla’s stiffie busting out of its monster thong, headed heavenwards as strings and brass soar and subterranean pleasure sparks spring to life.

Several tracks evoke Joe Meek traversing the futuristic spaceways that manifested in ‘Telstar’, including ‘Petitpooh’, mysterioso organ-lathered ‘Heidi’, and ‘Mother’ morphing into motorik. Like an ultimate potted Erick explosion, ‘Whitney’ churns Suicide-esque chain-gang malevolence into Birthday Party guitar/ bass pyrotechnics.

Of course, there’s a suitably atmospheric piece called ‘Nina’, ‘Droog’ is named after her much-missed doggie, and ‘Raymond’ homages Erick’s father (who recently passed away), an ocean-sprayed grand finale to the most original and untethered musical fry-up released this year.

By the time this column appears I might well have moved to Dorset. A new chapter begins. Happy Christmas!

‘Mes Amis’ is available via ericklegrand.bandcamp.com

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