The trail of bread crumbs goes like this: there’s Sunlight Service Group with one Peter Jordan. Occasionally rechristened as Pete da Clinker and joined by Tomoko Matsumoto, they are Clinker. Sour Grape Soup is Pete da Clinker’s solo album away from Clinker. Got it? Good, so does Pete.
“I’ve been doing stuff as Clinker since 1999, this album is a solo album away from doing that. When I started Clinker it was just me, but over the years Tomoko Matsumoto has got more involved and the albums since tend to be a true collaborative affairs. We’ve recorded 13 albums up to now and a few EPs, the latest album being A Distorted Image in 2012. This is my second solo album as Pete da Clinker. The last one, Tuning in for the Drop Out, came out in 2011. This new solo album is one of 2 quite contrasting halves. The first half is packed full garage/new wave stripped down guitar songs, probably influenced by the thriving but little known underground psych/garage scene going on in London. The second half is a concept based on a true story. It was just a laugh to take the piss out of a friend Matt and create a suite of songs based on his escapades. I called the four songs The Non Gloss Effect (which is a play on his name Matt). Musically they are less guitary and more about atmosphere I’d say. There’s probably people out there who will probably only like the first half of the album and possibly people that only like the second, but if people like it all, brilliant.”
I like it all, thank you very much. There is a dividing line on Sour Grape Soup, but chances are that if you dig the first half’s inescapable mischievous appeal of fizzy, fuzzy lopsided pop, the second half’s tendency for more ‘atmosphere’ will still be right up your alley and worthy of putting in your pipe. Are You For Real? sets the tone (one of many) for the first helping; a quick burst of buzz sawing pop that has as much hiss as it does piss. Chaucer’s Delight already sets the spin in motion, distancing itself from the gate while hinting at how much ground da Clinker is going to cover. ‘Side 1′s’ bowl is full of off-center pop simmering with the likes of Super Furry Animals, Graham Coxon, and even some poppier, earlier Eno to these ears (especially in some of Jordan’s vocals, a crucial secret weapon and ingredient to much of the appeal here). Does it sound like them? No, it’s much more than a knee-jerk comparison. But now you know where it’s coming from and what that means: hooky, meaty songs that are smart–and gritty–enough to take the piss out of pop as well as themselves without resorting to a sonic lobotomy. The lengthy, languid Islington Green is your exit sign for ‘Side 2,’ though it’s not devoid of chugging flare-ups. That said, that county line could be way off as more spins reveal a blurry, shifting boundary between the two. Hints of a more stretched out ambiance that were shown on the earlier pseudo-lament of the stellar National Trust are surrendered to here, moving Sour Grape Soup into a more heady and patient stew. Embracing a decidedly homespun, and homemade, brand of quivering psych pop that stays committed to the first ‘half,’ da Clinker casts an even wider net pushing into a more intimate headspace that’s not unlike someone/thing akin to nick nicely in intent. If your familiar with SSG and Sour Grape Soup is something new to explore, you won’t be let down. This isn’t SSG by any means, but Jordan’s crucial role there is made even more clear by Jordan and Matsumoto giving form to a different voice. Both projects teeter on a slighlty warped edge, bouncing sounds off a fun-house mirror that can only really distort by having such a solid base to begin twisting from. If Clinker, like, SSG, didn’t have such a firm grip on the core and a respect for the relative backbones that run through both, some of the detours might come over as frivolous or worse yet arbitrary. Yet, both leave distinct footprints even while they share a common leg.
“The main difference between my stuff and what Sunlight Service Group do is … pretty much everything. With Clinker, I spend a lot of time trying to get everything right in the studio and then months of tweaking the mixes sometimes, with Sunlight Service Group things move a lot quicker. With the new Sunlight Service Group album, Los Tres Bandidos, Will would write the song, find a suitable drum loop of James playing, record the guitar and vocals, send it to me, I would add other backing, send it back to Will and bar a bit of tinkering here and there that would be it…job done. This album is a lot closer to how Clinker works though than the last one, which was pretty much the sound of a live band in a room playing. Live is another matter. Sunlight Service Group involves a lot of jamming when we play, so every gig brings new thrills, or otherwise, haha … I guess Clinker comes out of a studio project, whereas Sunlight Service Group are a live band first and foremost.”
If you try and draw a straight line from SSG to Jordan’s Clinker world, good luck. It’s not that you’d be wasting your time, you’d be missing the whole point on two distinct pop contortionists. What they really share, outside of Jordan’s talent, is a way of thinking. Fortunately, the result is one of the elusive marriages of accessibility and eccentricity where part of the mystery and lure is trying to figure out how it works. Good luck with that also by the way …