Monday, March 31, 2008

How does it sound, gang!

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, a.P.A.t.T., Harry Merry.
Kilburn Luminaire. 19mar08.

Compared to what has gone before, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone a.k.a. the bear-like, be-jumpered Owen Ashworth, represents a comedown whichever way you look at it. These are the slow songs at the end of the night for you to grip on tight, whether to a memory of something that’s hit a dead-end or to an exciting new friend. For this tour Owen has a friend, Jenny Herbinson, so he’s not so lonesome he could cry, at least not tonight.

Before her appearance, he stands solo behind a cube of keys and consoles and he whispers and hairy-jowels his way through considered bedroom scuzz beats, the lo-fi buzz of the synths and a gentle twinkle through tunes like Ice Cream Truck. His vocal hints at heart-a-cracking, while the lyrics average out at gender neutral; “Frank Sinatra on the radio/but it might as well have been Li’l Kim/cos every single song still reminds you of him.”

When Jenny hops on, loose and refreshed, happily meeting a request for a tap-dance, matters take a turn for the upbeat, approaching Helen Love and Belle & Seb ‘Electronic Renaissance’ territory, albeit like a child poking a tramp with a stick.

Their performance is pretty twee and ginger, particularly in comparison to Liverpool six-piece a.P.A.t.T. who could only be more in your face if they happened to be using your left eyelid as a tent. A kind of unholy mangling of army discipline and screamin’ freenoise, they bring hot-desking to the stage, being as cavalier with their instruments as people might be with their partners at a suburban clusterfuck.

a.P.A.t.T. are a pop-prism of nightmare cycles, oscillating rust, cartoon croon, dronefunk, soulpoppinjazz, electroscat, drunkFrenchpop, gypsy mariachi-surf hoedown, nursery rhymlicks, bursts of Welsh mining community singing, clapsn’taps and operametal fairground warpola. “How does it sound, gang?” says one member half-way through, in a chirrup-come-growl, like a holiday camp activity leader that seems as likely to eat off your face as paint it.

It’s a good job Harry Merry doesn’t ask the same question as the honest answer would be a collective, “well, come to think of it, we’re really not sure” – not that you’re likely to get that in both spontaneity and harmony. Harry, from Rotterdam, appears through the curtain at the back-of-stage, as sure of foot as the Lurpak man on a hot pavement. With his Name Of The Rose/Emo Phillips/puffball hairdo and the circus-sailor smock, and his crashing into the brash avant-parlour pop of Appetite Satisfied Each Bite and the haphazard berk-prog of Jailbird, Keep Your Hands Off Miss Hilton, eyebrows raise all around, perplexed but agog.

For ‘Sharky Supermachine’, the synth-lines cycle, bubble and float, merging its time and action(s) into ever-decreasing random(esque) pockets, as the line “I’d rather be a monk”, a drum bwattertat-tat and a little camp swivel-and-point occur with mounting regularity. The general vocal pattern is set at ‘warped vinyl dufus’ and skirts ever closer to a child-like attention-seeking bellow through a Bell’s Palsied-like diagonal oral tilt.

It’s like watching the first communications of a Dutch boy price. Not a Stephen Poliakoff, crisp-golden-summers/tragedy-of-manners boy price, but simply the shoved-in-a-damp-shed, no-sleep-til-puberty kind. Harry Merry dares you not to peer at him incredulously; like a drill, his hooks lock in and twist.

Previously, in Vanity Project:
*a.P.A.t.T. interview. vp interviews
*a.P.A.t.T. – LP (Lowsley Sound/aPehAt). issue 15
*a.P.A.t.T. Liverpool Hev’n & Hell. 01apr05. issue 14
*a.P.A.t.T. Liverpool Barfly Loft. 25apr05. issue 14

Casiotone For The Painfully Alone @ MySpace
a.P.A.t.T. @ MySpace
Harry Merry @ MySpace



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