• Millimetre
  • Love Won Out (UK Orectic) 2005 

In keeping with his small-scale pseudonym, Terence J. McGaughey takes a minimalist approach on Love Won Out, crafting modest, idiosyncratic music that worms its way into your brain. These intimate, although lyrically obtuse songs combine sparse organic instrumentation (rudimentary guitars, some lumbering bass) and lo-fi electronics (clockwork rhythms, synth noises) with results that are best filed under post-industrial singer-songwriter. (Throbbing Gristle knob-twiddler Chris Carter helps out with production.) Love Won Out has a primitivist feel, at times recalling the Young Marble Giants, and there’s an odd charm in the way the wheels occasionally seem ready to come off. The clunky “Saint Patrick’s Favourite Snake” wobbles along on an off-kilter metronomic beat, and “Madge Gill” has warped My Bloody Valentine-on-a-shoestring guitars. The most memorable tracks owe something to Eno: “Bad Electricity” suggests parts of Another Green World, while the looping funk deconstruction “Manhood” evokes Colin Newman’s Eno-influenced early-’80s work. While the slightly wonky lo-fi components imbue several of these tracks with a post-punk DIY flavor, some of McGaughey’s work has a more contemporary feel that derives from the rhythmic dimension — for instance, the skittering beats on “The Dust Has Settled.” Overall, Love Won Out‘s strength resides in its refreshing simplicity. McGaughey doesn’t so much aim low as he avoids the pitfalls of trying too hard. That understated approach emphasizes the strength of his songwriting and proves that small can be beautiful.

[Wilson Neate]