Following on from last year’s collaborative effort, Choppped and Screwed, Mica Levi and friends return with their second studio album. Ms Levi is continuing to forge her own path.
And it’s telling that this album is more accessible than that -but still delightfully skewed pop, on its’ wonderful terms. THe first time I listened to this album, I realised I had to focus on it, rather than it just playing in the background. It’s actually quite easy to get into, if you give it the benefit of the doubt. Songs like ‘Slick’ and ‘Waste’ are pop songs, they’re just pop songs delivered by-and I mean this as a compliment -an artist with a unique, visionary approach to music. After all, how many artists do you know who make their own instruments?
Yes, it will freak some folk out. Good.
Because this is proof that experimental does not have to equal unlistenable, that experimental is not mutually exclusive from pop, that experimental is not shorthand for self-indulgent.
Micachu and the Shapes with the London Sinfonietta -‘Chopped and Screwed’ (Rough Trade)
This is being billed as Rough Trade’s first classicial release. personally speaking, if some of the work of Brian Eno comes up as Classicial when you try and iPod it, I would argue that Virgina Astley’s From Gardens Where We Feel Secure might also qualify for the title, and that came out in 1983. No matter…
This album is a document of a performance given last year, which was a collaboration between the London Sinfonietta (who are apparently very highly regarded) and the three piece Micachu and the Shapes. Classical music written in the last one hundred years can sometimes seem quite unfathomable and challenging (see Igor Stravinsky’s Rite Of Spring, Philip Glass’s Einstein On the Beach, and don’t even get me started on Benjamin Britten). Classicial and rock collaborations can also be very hit and miss. Elvis Costello and The Brodsky Quartet’s The Juliet Letters is briliant, Emerson Lake and Plamer’s mauling of Mussorsky’s Pictures At An Exhibition bloody terrible.
Whilst this isn’t as extreme as some, anyone expecting something where it’s music that’s nicely scored will be taken aback. Unless you listen to a fair amount of avant garde music, this may seem disorientating. ‘Everything’ and ‘Low Dogg’ may be good places to start.Some tracks are harder to get to grips with ‘medicine’ seems like a fascinating piece, until the last minute or so when it slips into pure self-indulgence.
There is a fair amount to take in here. However, while for the average listener it will require patience and a number of listens, there are a number of rewards to be had here.
Chopped and Screwed is released on March 28 on Rough Trade.