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Apr 22, 2014 — One of my favorite television shows is the British comedy series The IT Crowd. A friend of mine introduced me to it a few years back, and I was immediately hooked. It follows an IT department team in a large company, and the wacky situations in which they become entangled. Perhaps the highlight of the show for me was the CEO character played by actor Matt Berry. He was arrogant, clueless and absolutely hysterical. This set me on a path of trying to locate other shows featuring Berry. Since then I’ve discovered the joys of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, The Mighty Boosh, and Snuff Box. Unlike the more straightforward IT Crowd, these are all surreal and unconventional. As such, they take a little time getting used to, but once you catch the drift they’re addictive.
In watching these and looking into Berry’s filmography, I also came across the factoid that he performs music. He does some light (and hilarious) musical numbers in Darkplace and Snuff Box, so I was pretty excited to check out his musical stylings. I wasted no time in flying through the two albums he had released at that point, Opium and Witchazel, which were described as “progressive/psychedelic folk.” To be honest, that genre is not one in which I typically travel, but it was Matt Berry so I gave it a chance. Long story short I was pleasantly surprised by some catchy tunes and amusing lyrics (my favorite being “Accident at a Harvest Festival” on Witchazel).
I’m happy to report that both of these albums are on Freegal if you’re curious and want to check them out! This is the Freegal 5 though, and I’m here to expound on my downloads for this week.
First up, it turns out that Berry has released another album called Kill the Wolf, which takes British horror movies as its inspiration. In particular it appears to recall the 70’s classic The Wicker Man. As we speak, Freegal is offering a two fantastic singles from the album! These are “Medicine” and “Gather Up,” and both carry on the vibe from the previous albums. “Medicine” is my favorite of the two. It’s an upbeat tune which one could easily imagine being intended as the album’s breakout hit single. The slow and ethereal “Gather Up” clearly reveals The Wicker Man influence, as it talks about gathering items for the harvest. The track would definitely fit on a Wicker Man soundtrack album.
In addition to these two gems, I also picked up a few other Berry singles that I hadn’t run across before. “An Electronic Hero” and “Ukenwhistle” are both instrumental pieces featured on the Medicine single release. I enjoyed both, as they reminded me of the excellent soundtrack music from Snuff Box. Speaking of which, my 5th and final download is an alternate take of the “Theme From Snuff Box” featuring soul singer and Evansville, Indiana native Geno Washington. I love the “Theme From Snuff Box,” which is endlessly riffed on throughout the show. Once it gets stuck in your head it will never leave! Washington does a great job with his rendition, adding yet another version for fans to enjoy. Oddly, the cover of the Snuff Box single release hypes the fact that the song is featured in the movie Dredd. I guess the folks who made Dredd must be big Matt Berry fans – go figure!
Jim Blanton, Library Director