Micachu and the Shapes and the London Sinfonietta Orchestra – Chopped and Screwed

http://www.roughtraderecords.com http://www.konkurrent.nl

This is not an easy record. It’s certainly not the street urchin pop of their debut; this is a full blown (and seemingly live), collaboration with the London Sinfonietta. Funnily enough this release is not remotely pretentious; it certainly has the potential to be that: rather it’s a committed record, and not one to hold back. It’s too much like hard work (in the best sense of that phrase) to be anything that can be dismissed out of hand.

You will need a vat of patience to wade through the opening notes of State of New York, mind, as the discordant, dirge-like noise (one that gets more dolorous as the track progresses)is not one that is traditionally used to begin records… There’s something very gothic about the whole enterprise, it does hark back to a misty time when sensitive types would sit motionless through 17 Seconds, Garlands, or Pornography in their bedrooms. And I find something very refreshing in that. This LP has wit, a focus and intent, however dolorously expressed.  

Micachu’s rhythmic side (possibly their strongest suit) is always present, just differently presented. Their music has always been driven by a clap and a thud.  And they are cheeky: however earnest this record initially sounds, you can’t hold down the cheekiness of the band: Unlucky and Average are cases in point; despite creating to all intents and purposes is a soundscape for an abattoir, there’s something quite funny about the arrangements, especially the rush of plucked strings and tappings at the end of Unlucky. There are pop moments: Everything is a cute melody that seams steam powered; it certainly chugs along in a bright and inventive manner.

Highlights for this reviewer are Low Dogg which is a “cello attack” of considerable proportions and the very effective lament/plod of Not So Sure, which builds up to kick off very pleasingly at the album’s end.

A really enjoyable and inventive listen: almost like days of old…