Anthony More (né Moore) was a founding member of progressive trio Slapp Happy in the early ’70s; following that band’s merger with Henry Cow and subsequent dissolution, More went his own way, continuing his solo career at erratic intervals. Although he hasn’t released a record under his own name since 1984 (he does pop up as a producer now and again, especially in and around the Golden Palominos camp), More’s last three releases are stunning. As an artist, he’s a highly idiosyncratic innovator who combines art and rock into a far-reaching, weird and wonderful set of styles, from the atonal to the hook-laden. More imparts all his songs with a nonconformist’s perspective that defies easy comprehension.
Flying Doesn’t Help displays More’s melodic stance, with such beautiful and haunting creations as “Judy Get Down” and “Lucia”; his wit surfaces in sardonic pieces like “Caught Being in Love” and “Girl It’s Your Time.” Building dense sonic forests filled with jagged splinters and dry, incongruously delicate vocals, the results fall somewhere between Peter Gabriel, John Cale, David Bowie and Kevin Ayers. An extraordinary record that reveals itself a little further each time it’s played.
World Service (which, unlike Flying, credits musicians) takes a decidedly less attractive route, better displaying the anti-music aspect of More’s work; dour singing and bitter lyrics make it a challenging record that’s as brilliant but not as easily enjoyed as the first. “Broke’n Idle,” despite glum intent, contains the record’s strongest melody. In contrast, “Fat Fly” is unrelentingly bleak; the light relief is provided by atonal background guitar. World Service isn’t unpleasant; rather, it explores different ground with the same caustic eye and inventive mind.
With ex-Fingerprintz guitarist Jimme O’Neill in tow and Dagmar Krause providing backing vocals, More lightens the mood considerably on The Only Choice, whose commercial release is in some doubt. He incorporates African rhythms on a few cuts, found sounds on others, and presents a lyrical mix of wry observations on ills of the modern world (“Industrial Drums,” “Find One Voice”) plus fascinating outlooks on communication and relationships (and not simply romantic ones). The often-understated music is consistently likable but a bit less invigorating than his best. Nonetheless, More’s varied talents, craft and incisiveness combine to make it a rewarding album.
In recent years, Moore has written lyrics for Pink Floyd and had one of his songs covered by Julian Lennon.