The Bug

[Tapping The Conversation sleeve]"Tapping The Conversation" (Album, 1997)

Wordsound Recordings

One glance at the sleeve, then a peak at the track titles which include Harry's Theme, Those Tapes Are Dangerous and Twenty-Four Hour Surveillance, is more than enough to tell you that this curious work by The Bug pays tribute to Francis Ford Coppola's 1974 thriller The Conversation. Indeed, this is described on the sleeve notes as "An audio reinterpretation" of the film. I'm always wary of the use of the word "reinterpretation" as it usually signals something either pretentious or just a plain let down. But as a big fan of the film, my interest was piqued enough for me to pick this up on the off-chance that I had unearthed an unknown gem.

Sadly, that wasn't the case (in spite of the prescence of Andre Gurov aka Ninja Tune fave DJ Vadim). This comes as a surprise as everything about the package looks promising. Subject matter taken as given, there are some great track titles that suggest all manner of intrigue and the artwork is a suitably sinister collage of surveillance equipment and handguns. Still, it's the music that matters and on that front this album really disappoints. Sounding like a bastard mix of 70s prog-rock and electronic experiments in noise the results are uniformly turgid. Disappointment rapidly dissolves into indifference and then irritation. A completely worthwhile concept unfortunately executed in a gloriously self-indulgent and inconsequential manner. 2/10

Footnote: Coppola's film has certainly inspired many musicians over the years. One, Jon Black, has paid tribute to it more than once. His most recent - Reiss Sampler/01 - from last year included a track entitled Room 773 Jackdaw Hotel. Coincidentally, The Bug includes one here called simply Room 773. Really coincidence... or conspiracy... you decide!

Rob Dyer (June 2006)

See also:

Jon Black - "Sci-Fi Music"
Jon Black - "Reiss Sampler/01"
The Conversation