Sunday, 3 October 2010

TV On The Radio

I was first introduced to these guys by a friend of mine, the infamous Jeff "Cock Will Set You Free" McDeath - ultimate arbiter of all things indie. At the time Jeff was one of my loyal minions in the nerd emporium that I lorded over. During the day we had to put up with the insipid mix of emo and alt-pop that filled the company-sanctioned compilation CDs; but once the store was closed we could play what we wanted, which was typically ear-splitting violence anthems (me) or desperately trendy minimalist European shoegaze techno (him). Generally, we didn't see eye-to-eye - musically speaking, at least. But every so often a little gem would turn up.

Return To Cookie Mountain, TVotR's second full-length, was one of those gems - although I didn't immediately take to it. The vocal style was a bit weird, and stylistically the album never quite seemed to settle down. But working late one night to meet a fast approaching deadline, I was left with a choice between listening to that or the radio-friendly shop CDs; which was really no choice at all. Incidentally, this is also why listening to this album always reminds me of building Dwarf mountain fortresses.

After repeated listens, Cookie Mountain began to grow on me. It slowly dawned that the style wasn't randomly jumping about, but that each song featured whatever instrumentation was most appropriate; sometimes guitars, sometimes electronica, sometimes tribal drumming, sometimes whistling. And the vocals that had seemed so out of place at first were what gave it all a sense of cohesiveness, in all their quirky and soulful brilliance. It all sounded like nothing I had ever heard before, and it was bloody brilliant.

Bizarrely, it was TVotR's obvious flair for experimentation that put me off getting any of their other records; they were clearly capable of anything, and there was no way of knowing what the rest of their output might sound like. Of course, I shouldn't have worried - it's all the same mix of jazz, soul, electronica and indie as before - though for me they're at their best when it's all driving rhythms and great walls of rich and luscious electronica.

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