"Gasp! Who's that familiar looking chap who looks like the chap from Franz Ferdinand" I hear you cry, for I have sensitive ears.
Why it's Alex Kapranos in his old band the Karelia of course (some may remember this getting a bit of press a while back – apologies).
Yes in fact he pioneered his black shirt and orange tie combo back in 1997 with an obscure improvisational jazz-rock outfit who released one album and promptly disappeared…
Well I was going through the mp3 on my laptop and I discovered their album which I downloaded at some point last year and promptly forgot about. It was on the internet somewhere – I bid you to go and search. It's called Divorce at High Noon.
Musically patchy in places, it nevertheless has a number of tracks that make it well worth a listen, even if only as curiosities, though it's possible to see why it bombed – 1997 was the era of the Verve, OK Computer and Oasis failing to live up to expectation, not neo-jazz-rock-funk. Witty and erodite lyrics abound. In particular hunt down 'To His Coy Dietress' – nice Andrew Marvell reference – a song encouraging an obese lady to gorge herself on his "raspberry nipples" and asking "Could you encircle me/with lips that quiver and drip for me?" Fusing gluttony and sexual promiscuity with devastating effect, it's a triumph, whilst life in a Barret Garret is a stifled suburban tale of net curtains diffusing pink sunrises.
The concluding track, Garravughty Butes is a 10 minute epic improvised rock / jazz tour de force, over which Alex seems to freestyle whatever words come into his head, changing from a high pitched squeak to a confident growl as he repeats the word 'stupid', and asking whether the moon has gravity and finally concluding that the spacemen on the moon use Gravity Boots (at this point he shouts Garravughty Butes repeatedly as the song collapses in a psychedelic jazz haze, only to get going again with some random organ). Love's a Cliche was apparently a single, and it's delivered with an effortless swoon few vocalists (Morrissey?) can muster.
Quite simply, I've never heard an album like it. As a point of contrast, it also shows the extent to which Franz Ferdinand are a very cleverly controlled application of Alex Kapranos's talent, providing evidence that success involves fusing your strengths with a winning formula.