Thursday, 30 June 2011

Philophobia Music - 'To Dare Is To Do' Review

Various Artists
To Dare Is To Do
Philophobia Music

This is a new compilation from Wakefield label Philophobia Music. It contains 2 tracks each by Above Us The Waves, Gary Gore & EE Viles and Daniel Lancaster. All those bands appeared in various forms on the excellent full length PHOP comp ‘Under The Bus Station Clock’ last year. With a lot of high profile releases from its more well known bands (Runaround Kids, The Spills, Piskie Sits etc) since then, Philophobia wanted to celebrate its lesser known stars too.

To Do Is To Dare has pleasingly old skool PHOP packaging, a handmade cardboard sleeve that folds out to reveal 3 separate mini CDs (you know those proper small ones, about 3” in diameter?). It’s a pointless but brilliant touch that makes things like this worth buying. But what of the music?

First up is Above Us The Waves who’s self released EP ‘A Gene’ was well received last year. They are the most ‘typical’ band here in relation to the label. Those with a vague interest in Wakefield sounds will know what to expect here, fuzzed up guitars, energetic, spritely stuff. Those with a greater interest will see the difference here, less slacker, less poppy, more rickety and runaway; wirey and fractured. There’s a strong sense of authenticity here; AUTW have a seriousness, a dark streak that a lot of their peers avoid. Not that this isn’t enjoyable; the lumbering crescendos of ‘X-Ray Eyes’ in particular are moving and certainly point to much future potential.

Gary Gore & EE Viles is a collaboration between Junior Swimsuit and Swords, as last heard on the aforementioned PHOP Comp. It continues the labels occasional foray into electronica. Both tracks have a really great, individual sound. It’s light and airey, bringing to mind some elements of The Postal Service or the playful side of Aphex Twin. That’s not a reference I like to use; it’s what people fall back on who don’t understand the subtleties of this kind of thing. But it’s accurate here as this is Electronica from the minds of Indie kids and it fits it is so full of melody as opposed to groove or momentum. It also reminds me a little of ‘Worrywort’ by Radiohead but again, that just shows my own limited field of knowledge.

The first track, ‘Decades Erased’ is vocal free, allowing the alternating melodies to take lead. It’s interesting that it’s a collaboration; it feels like a robot duet, with lines coming and going, moving in and out of focus. It works well. The second has a heavily altered vocal hook which adds some variation. Both tracks take a long time to sink in, full of invention and leaps through strange territories of inverted logic, but are equally accessible and dreamlike, so completely worth the effort.

The last double hit is from former Lapel (Philophobia’s first band) Daniel Lancaster who has been rather quiet since the bands split some years back. However, here we have a pair of astoundingly confident tracks of acoustic based pop, with a full band backing. There are great production touches all over the place but it never feels overly showy. The songs at the heart of all this are strong and it’ll be interesting to see what happens when they are played live. Like all the tasters here, it bodes well for the future.

This whole EP is a success as it gives enough to raise interest in these lesser known talents yet also leaves me wanting more, from all of them. I like the awkwardness of it too – that it’s on 3 different CDs. What, I got to get up AND CHANGE THE CD to hear the different bands? Yes you do. That’s the kind of hardcore fan that Philophobia is here for. Course you can always download it if that sounds like too much effort.

Dean Freeman

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