Melody Maker
Macrocosmica - Live
December 6th, 1997

THEY may be aiming for the stars, but it sounds like they're slumped in the gutter. Which, as any Tindersticks fan will agree, is a fine location...
For starters, the genre - DC hardcore gone gothic - should make pretty queasy listening. Who in hell wants Bauhaus as Fugazi? But ex-Telstar Ponies Brendan O'Hare and Gavin Laird are at work here - so nothing's quite that simple. The Ponies' glory lay in their refusal of certainties. Why shouldn't two plus two make three... or seven? These songs are less open-ended - well, they're songs for starters (which will upset the purists of course). But it's the album's quivering texture which really compels as guitars crunch through tunes or shiver into the distant space invader sounds.
"Spaceship" is a lament from the first moments of grief, dry-eyed and disbelieving. Dying away round the edges. But the rest of the album is rawer and more edgy, with songs like "Ram's Expo" betraying the nervous tension of someone hurt too many times. Damaged people may be dangerous but they make bloody good records.
Macrocosmica don't deign to charm (with such sub-Gedge voices, that'd be pretty impossible anyway). They'd far rather scare us "With those empty spaces/ Between stars/ On stars where no race is". Which makes "Ad Astra" less enjoyable... and a million times more interesting.