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Micachu And The Shapes
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  • Jewellery
  • Chopped And Screwed
  • Never








  • Adrian's Album Reviews |

    Micachu And The Shapes

    jewellery

    Jewellery ( 2007 )
    Vulture / Lips / Sweetheart / Eat Your Heart / Curly Teeth / Golden Phone / Ship / Floor / Just In Case / Calculator / Wrong / Turn Me Well / Guts

    Micachu And The Shapes started life as Micachu performing DJ duties in Grime music clubs. For her own LP though she's got a group of musicians around her and seemingly set about creating the very first original sound of 2009. 'Jewellery' hints at both Ting Tings and Lily Allen yet ensures both come back out of a blender shredded and in absolute bits, with a hint of Captain Beefheart lovingly dashed across the top as seasoning. Basically, that's a rubbish attempt at describing the Micachu tunes, riffs and songs and I use those three words deliberately. Not everything here is exactly 'a song' and it quickly becomes clear that Micachu is either a genuis, an absolutely beginner musician or perhaps a little of both. Oh, in case you haven't got it down yet, 'Jewellery' is an absolutely brilliant blast of an LP from beginning to end. Also, it could only ever have been made in 2009 and how many records can you realistically say that about?

    A couple of tunes then feature a vacumn cleaner as additional instrumentation. Other things like drills, electric shavers etc are quite possibly used. The guitar parts sound constantly out of tune yet still manage to captivate you due to the very simple and very catchy riffs they play out. Her vocals are mixed fairly low yet she also shouts on occasion about things like Calculators or Vampires. The opening cut doesn't have words that one is easily able to make out. Yet, combination of weird rhythm, weird vacumn cleaner, booming and discordant drums makes for one of the most thrilling tunes i've heard in many a year.

    There are plenty of great songs here. 'Lips' is a mere 80 seconds long yet contains more ideas than many bands careers. It's also the kind of music John Peel really would have loved. This isn't alternative for the sake of it, merely you get the feeling this is the only way Micachu knows how to make music within her own limitations. Limitations? Yeah, we know she's no virtuoso, yet we also know she has an ear for a tune and bundles of energy. 'Eat Your Heart' and 'Curly Teeth' are both deeply experimental, yet's loads of fun. 'Golden Phone' is a tune and three quarters, absolutely blindingly brilliant stuff. 'Calculator' begins with such a familiar riff before it veers off into very different territory and the vocals are playful and weird both as the guitars distort around her.

    One the one hand, I know 'Jewellery' isn't a masterpiece in the grand scheme of things. It's a little too out there at times, yet when this album hits the spot, it does so stupendously. As such, this is an album I know i'll dig out repeatedly, just for the silliness of it all and I mean to use that word and to use it in a great way.

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    Chopped And Screwed ( 2011 )
    State of New York / Unlucky / Everything / Average / Freaks / Medicine Drank / Low Dogg / Fall / Not So Sure

    A live album recorded with the London Sinfonietta, May 2010. The strings sound paranoid and, combined with improvised music often using Mica Levi's strange concoction of treated and 'found' instruments, results in 'Chopped And Screwed' only ever being a challenging listen. Her first Studio LP released in 2009 had approachable songs performed with imagination and verve as she sought out to produce a genuinely original sound. 'Chopped And Screwed' is so far out left often you struggle to catch a hook or find yourself being genuinely engaged. It's an album that surrounds 4 or 5 genuine songs with stretches of seemingly improvised on the spot linking instrumental passages. Those paranoid strings percolate this bewildering brew. 'Chopped And Screwed' suffice is say is best listened to in the dark and the silence of night, with headphones on blocking out the surrounding world completely. The album opens with a brief snatch of the audience settling down from whom we don't then get to hear much again until the end, like a genuine classical performance, they had been asked to reserve their applause until the close of the show.

    'State Of New York' then is as brave and experimental an opening possible, featuring buried and treated ghostly vocals their as an additional sonic texture, rather than providing something tangible and to make sense of it all. 'Not So Sure' is the sound of someone drowning at sea, it all sounds very underwater to my ears, at any rate. 'Everything' was released as a single and is the most approachable moment on the album, that's to say this is still experimental and avant garde but the structure resembles a song rather than an abstract painting. The percussion I haven't a clue where it comes from, pots and pans and scribbled strings perhaps? It feels like eternity has fallen on you when 'Low Dogg' comes nosily clattering in, a song birthed in another universe yet with actual lyrics and an actual vocal melody - "Twist my neck until I snap" she sings, delightfully and yet, matter of factly.

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    Never ( 2012 )
    Easy / Never / Waste / Sick / OK / Low Dogg / Holiday / Heaven / You Know / Glamour / Top Floor / Fall / Nothing / Nowhere

    After a challenging live album, fans of the debut Micachu album 'Jewellery' may have been expecting a return back to the fun junk-shop pop of that particular little set of songs. Nope, we've got more of a sense that 'Chopped and Screwed' was previewing a new direction that reaches fruition here. Ok, this isn't as abstract as the live album yet what it does manage to do, is at once remind you this could be nobody other than Micachu, with 'The Shapes' creating something genuinely unlike music produced by any other individual currently on earth. 'Nothing' for instance is an utterly twisted, sci-fi horror/love doo-wop ballad. Built around a single, simple electric guitar riff, it shows some sign of Micachu's working methods, the noise and the arrangement key to turning a fairly simple strum into something approaching avant-garde genius. 'Waste' begins with Mica's customised guitar, again just strumming. Echo placed on voices, before a great stonking noise erupts that tears off your eardrums. The album presents fourteen songs in thirty five minutes, 'Waste' is under two minutes long and yes, you yearn for it to be longer. Each songs seems to cleverly flow into the next though, which does go some way to compensate.

    The single taken from 'Never' is 'Never', a song never likely to be played anywhere on any radio station in the current musical climate, let alone become a hit. Its a fractured two minute piece of rhythm and fast paced lyrics that go round and round. Good pop songs do go round and round. 'You Know' comes closest for me to being an approachable pop song, but even here, we've got distorted vocals and music that comes from god knows where. Still, that's what I like about Micachu and the Shapes. You can't even begin to guess how this music is made and what instruments are playing. When half the instruments are either found, or customised, what can you say? I love music like that, music where you can genuinely wonder how it even comes to exist. 'Top Floor' is only forty seven seconds long, a flute and soft, lovely vocals dreaming about jumping into the sky. The closing 'Nowhere' hints at a heavier sound for Micachu, perhaps one she could successfully employ next time around? Like 'Waste', these bursts of guitar and unfathomable noise are really genuineoly thrilling.

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    this page last updated 19/05/13


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