Monday, 31 March 2014

Lovely Wife / Kings & Queens / Joey Murphy / P. D. Gregory / Head Of Light Entertainment - Demo Reviews - NARC Magazine, May 2014 Edition

[2014.03.31] Tom Hollingworth, for NARC Magazine.

The first of this months demos is a raucous instrumental composed as an immediate tribute to Lou Reed, recorded on the day he died last October. True to honouring the Factory man, this seventeen-minute plus behemoth from Lovely Wife comes rough and ready, as if captured by one scared microphone. The guitar charges the beaches from waves of feedback,  whilst the rhythm section drifts in and out of consciousness. At eleven minutes in, the beat unravels and the sounds melt into ricocheting white noise, masterfully tamed to the songs exit on honed singular harmonics.

Next, Kings & Queens bring unashamed riffs from stoner-rock and metal heritage with their debut EP 'Exposed.'  The mandate is primarily revivalistic, with the music serving as a catalyst for pure catharsis. The energy in their songs certainly inspires motion, and I imagine their shows would leave you dripping in sweat. The production of the recordings unfortunately denies the songs their intrinsic power though, with the drums mixed thinly amongst the crunching guitars and the lead vocals spaced a little too far forward from the band. This EP is well-paced, concluding with the most joyous anthem 'Smells Like Cherries.'  with soaring plagal harmonies driving the choruses.

Stretched vocals and choice retro samples are compressed between a slow pendulating beat to paint the sorrow of Joey Murphy's 'Hurt.' The variety of volumes at which each sample is mixed into this collage excellently represents a broken character plodding through turmoil. The lyric 'I hope that someday soon, all the pain will go away' emerges as the song moves on and melodic lines crash around like waterfalls. Abruptly finishing at just over two minutes, I feel Murphy could have expanded more on the mood he had sensitively established.

To be able to watch a sunrise after an adventurous evening is one of life's luxuries, and I am drawn to music which compliments this reflective and wondrous phenomenon. P.D. Gregory, with his peaceful instrumental 'Distance,' records similar emotions over a slowly crescendoing track built upon a repeating organ arpeggio. Excellently judged, incrementally out-of-tune drones initially light the background of this piece, before the pulse settles and other synthesised keyboard sounds ornament the progression. With the final section concluding with noisy and reverberated distorted guitars, typical to certain prog' tendencies, the drum machine's limited tone is sadly exposed in the mix for this portion of the recording. Frustratingly, the track ends as if clipped due to it being bounced-down accidently short.

It would appear Head Of Light Entertainment's band-name is a legitimate boast from their offering 'Dwindle Dwindle Little Hope,' a sprightly jaunt through Pop Park. This song even features a whimsical xylophone part! The snappy subdivision of the lyrics allows for fun puns and surprise content to drop at every stage, whilst the band reliably skanks in support. The coda rounds the song off with a lullaby-esque refrain, where our backing vocalist assumes the lead melody. It is a patchwork of some enjoyable novelty but the sum is no greater than the parts.

This set of demos included such an eclectic mix of styles with such disparate languages my selection cannot possibly weight their value against one another. My pick of the month, however, goes to Lovely Wife for the bravery to create music that organically determines its own length; for making a spontaneous yet thoughtful offering to a musician they respect; and for their musicality to balance improvisation, the manipulation of chaos, and melodic ideas throughout this singular recording as a truly unified ensemble.

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