Fantastical narrative woven in erratic walls of sonance, thrash and song from extraordinary dexterous young musicians, players with hands nimbler than a wild west cowboy quick on the draw, is etched forever in print for the second black midi record Cavalcade, released May 26th via Rough Trade. No instrument left unturned and listening to frankly whatever they can get their ears around all go into the hat where daring ambition never fears a sweaty hot mess.
“If you worry about that before you start, you’re limiting yourself. You have to try because you could either end up with a madman’s breakfast, or you could end up with a fantastic kaleidoscope, and the only way to find out which one it’s going to be is to try. If you fail, so what? Try again,” Lead vocalist and guitarist Geordie Greep articulates.
Opposing first release Schlagenheim and, due to the initial division of several songs forced to be born individually at home, funnily enough, a sensation of freedom was exposed. This melting pot bubbles and boils in humoured teaser John L. Brass riffs reminiscent of Flight of the Bumblebee by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov thrust into intimidating clunk-clank jar with intentional dissonance and Phsyco strings from Jerskin Fendrix; all formulaic structure is thrown out of the window.
"John Fifty is in tatters, his soapbox usurped. His torn rob adorns the tree stumps of the earth." A tale of a cult leader overthrown by courageous subjects, eloquently written, it appears biblical. Cavalcade indicates a procession of people. For the duration of this soundscape, we sit in a dimmed cabaret club, small lamps on beaded tables and dense with smoke, as characters tread the boards with a ragged, faded chapter hanging out of their back pocket. Bassist Cameron Picton dissects,
“When you’re listening to the album, you can almost imagine all the characters form a sort of Cavalcade. Each tells their story one by one, and as each track ends, they overtake you, replaced by the next in line.”
Hogwash And Balderdash rivals John's intensity, harsh yet fun, pirates, on high seas, drunk with bottles of punk, and flickers and pauses whisk you to NYC for West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein; the talent of this band matches. In Chondromalacia Patella, jazzy flashes nurture a gentler reception; a recovery period proves troublesome- "No strength left to pull the cord of the morning bell"- detonating a finish of arpeggiated guitars, and, ironically, Slow is pacey and joins that jazz, carrying the torch of obscurity in its breathy analysation heeding the speed to destroy something versus the time to re-build.
Legend has it that one purple dusk Nick Cave took Bloc Party on the dodgems, and from an overzealous bump, Dethroned appeared, reverb and lo-fi attitude executed with status. As tumbling, frantic drums gallop their way through the tracks, breathtaking beauty Diamond Stuff permit them to take a breather letting two bouzoukis, Marxophine and a wok, yes, a wok, pitter-patter out in a breathy woodland chant. It speaks of a mining company unearth a corpse lay for hundreds of thousands of years; its spirit wailing, pulled from the soil.
“With this track, in particular, there was so much space for scary sounds and little colours to be introduced, so I got a lot of percussion out to use. I’d been making a damn fine stir fry during Lockdown, so that probably inspired me to bring the wok in from the kitchen and play it with a violin bow. We had a lot of fun making this track, trying out lots of cool things," Picton gleefully speaks.
Adding to its bookish power of setting scenes, Hollywood glamour dazzles in a deserted, cobwebbed ballroom of ghosts- bones poking through their elegant threadbare costumes- performing an endless dance. The turn is black midi paying tribute to Schöneberg enigma and superstar Marlene Dietrich through their retro, bossa nova croon: "Under soft lights with a taped back face, our soft-spoken queen takes her place on the stage."
And now, for the finale: Ascending Forth. A ten-minute big finish and one overwhelmed listener astonished at what has taken place. Frank Sinatra- cigar in one hand, whiskey in the other- would approve of its content, pretty melody repeating as the orchestra, heightening and lowering in ferocity and force until enough momentum is present for the ghosts to spin like a tornado up into blinding light. A long note. Shuffled song sheets are tossed in the air, drift to the floor and are tethered back into a pile to decant the fragrance of the midi, an uncomfortable comfortableness. Red curtain down; standing ovation.
Article by Beverley Knight