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Will Sergeant

+ {Glide}

Fans of 80s neo-psychedelic outfit ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN will immediately know of WILL SERGEANT’s ethereal guitar riffs for the band; the fact that he’s been a stalwart of the Bunnymen from day one (dating way back to 1978), and he’s still playing foil to head-boy and co-conspirator IAN McCULLOCH decades on, is a remarkable feat in itself.
Born William Alfred Sergeant, 12th April 1958 in Melling, nr. Liverpool, the guitarist has been dabbling in psychedelic electronica since the Bunnymen birth. A debut cassette WEIRD AS FISH {*5} had only 7 copies pressed, while a short score (`La Via Luonge’) to complement a Bunnymen concert was never issued until it appeared on CD, alongside the aforementioned tape. His supplemented solo career really got underway in 1982 via `Favourite Branches’, a 45 flipped with a Ravi Shankar and Bill Loveday B-side. Recorded around the same time, but held off until 1983, Themes For `GRIND’ {*6} found the man completing his musical manifesto all on his ownsome. A minimalist fan of the likes of NEU! and early KRAFTWERK, and played in much the same spirit as the shelved “Luonge” project, it basically added up to instrumental compositions that suited both guitar, keyboard and a bit of psychedelic percussion.
The late 80s saw a transitional period for the Bunnymen as a series of downbeat events took place: McCULLOCH departed for a solo career (replaced by Noel Burke for one album, `Reverberation’), long-time stalwart and great sticksman, Pete de Freitas, died in tragic circumstances in June ’89, and the band were duly dropped by Warner Brothers.
In the mid-90s, the well-named ELECTRAFIXION reunited lost souls SERGEANT and McCULLOCH, who, with the help of the post-grunge and Brit-pop markets, delivered their one-and-only set, `Burned’. The path was now clear for a full-blown ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN re-formation, and when original bassist Les Pattinson signed up in ‘97, it was indeed set in place; Les, though, bailed out after only one album, `Evergreen’.
Meanwhile, always looking for a side-bet to expand his musical hedge-fund, Will instigated the pseudonymous, GLIDE. Released only a matter of days after his fresh Bunnymen exploits, the “Live at the Bubblebath, Liverpool” set SPACE AGE FREAK OUT (1997) {*5} landed on Planet Earth. Without calling up Major Tom or the Spiders From Mars for assistant, it looked as if he’d been on the buzzer to Dr. Alex Patterson of The ORB, or even NASA for some sound sample-delics.
Getting off his little fluffy clouds, but still in the live zone, :PERFORMANCE (2000) {*6} delivered an altogether smoother and crystalline ambient sound than its trippy predecessor. Mirroring the days of FRIPP & ENO’s “No Pussyfootin’” and `Evening Star’, or new age meister craftsman, Steve Roach, the electro beats and the Will-o-tronics here (even the 30-minute encore, `Frozen Teardrop In Space’) eschew something suited for the bedroom – speakers blasting of course!
Lashings of psychedelia and weirdness were also found on Sergeant’s third GLIDE full-set, CURVATURE OF THE EARTH (2004) {*6}, the man now at peace with both his guitar frets and the electroids; check out `Iggy & Ziggy’, a trippy punk-vs-glam aural assault.
© MCS Aug2012

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