I must admit that I had never heard of War Against Sleep, but I now know it`s basically an outlet for the words, wisdom and wonderful warbling’s of Bristol based Duncan Fleming.

The latest missive “Infinite Shades of Porno Cliché” is the eighth War Against Sleep LP and arrived with a quote that this is “homemade, fringe interest stuff – strictly for the weirdos”.

In fairness, I’d have to agree but that would be doing this musical maverick a disservice.

`Jingle Jangle` opens with a piano and Duncan`s clear crooning vocals, it had a sort of sixties torch song feel about it, some nice backing harmonies but with some quite unusual lyrics that spoke of a request for anal penetration from the recipient. I`ve never been a drug user, i`m probably in the Bill Clinton school but when occasionally a herbal cigarette was passed to me I did inhale so I was clueless as to what candyflipping was until I did an internet trawl, which can be hazardous and found that it was mixing LSD and MDMA. So `Candyflipping With Valery` is obviously a tale about indulging in this recreational activity with a good friend. The lyrics turn a little erotic as this almost psychedelic pop song progresses, possibly due to what has been indulged in.

`Flamingo` is a laid-back offering that had a David Lynch Twin Peaks and also a cinematic feel about it at times. The vocals are quite husky and there are some interesting guitar riffs. I couldn`t quite decipher the lyrics but the symbolism of a Flamingo calls for you to be vibrant and outgoing so maybe that will suffice. I thought musically that there were shades of Primal Scream`s `Rocks` at times with `Vanilla Love` Again, I must have lived a sheltered life as I found (via the internet again) that vanilla sex refers to conventional sex, in heterosexual sex, it refers to sex in the missionary position, and broadly speaking, it excludes fetishes such as S&M. So once armed with this knowledge I could understand the song`s references. I really loved this track especially the harmonic choruses and saxophone snatches. It`s quite a hypnotic offering and I found I had to stop myself from wandering around singing “Vanilla Love” out loud.

`Message From An Admirer` was an interesting offbeat, quirky piece. It appeared musically to have a repetitive drumbeat, some occasional flute excerpts, along with a sound akin to a needle left on at the end of a vinyl record. Above this we intermittingly had a recording of hedonistic answer machine messages from a lady who seemed to get more excited as the number progressed. There`s a mesmerising chill out new age jazz vibe to `Liquid Mascara` so much so that I found that the few lyrics shared were almost an irrelevance to the song.

`Psychedelica Pornographica` has a deep spoken narrative over a jazzy blissful piano, trumpet, and drum backdrop that kind of harks back to the time of smoky saloons and the beat poets. If I’m honest I really don`t know what `Ripple In The Abyss` is all about and maybe that`s a good thing. The vocal delivery was very languorous as it ambled along, but it put me in mind of songs like `The Bewlay Brothers` and `Quicksand` from classic “Hunky Dory” period Bowie.

`Sleaze Machine` is a delight. A sort of disco oriented composition where the vocals appear quite distant, quite remote as if they are being shared through a megaphone or down a telephone line. There`s a cracking saxophone solo and I’m sure you can have a guess to the lyrics, There is a wonderfully unnerving waltz like feel to `Child Of Stardust` where ostensibly the focus of the story has some kind of dream like romantic fantasy but I could be mistaken.

`Julie’s Operation` is an idiosyncratic brief left field piece where the subject looks as if they have become an expert on vaginal rejuvenation having seemingly undergone a recent procedure herself. The penultimate cut `The Masquerade` is about the most immediately accessible offering on the whole album. It has a real melodious beauty and the lyrics although unconventional, they have a real earnest feel about them.

The album closes with `Fairy Lights` which recalls past times of a woman of social standing who had the power to thumb her nose at convention and throw herself into the hedonistic nightlife all shared against an enchanting traditional pop come easy listening musical style.

I thoroughly enjoyed this release and found it a real joy to listen to. It is offbeat, quirky, experimental, avant-garde, but has a dream like quality at times. The lyrics were decadent, erotic, promiscuous and on occasions heading towards the perverted but were delivered in an amusing, witty and entertaining inoffensive manner. This L.P. will need a few listens for you to fully appreciate Duncan`s imaginative and creative War Against Sleep wonderland but if you allow him to guide you, it`ll certainly be an experience you won`t forget.

Rating 9.5/10