How does it sound, gang!
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