Octopus4 – The Algorithm


I’ve managed to sit myself down again for another musical digest. Will it be as long as the last one? Answer is, it’s always difficult to tell, but here goes.


As with any follow-up album, the critic needs to be equipped with a fresh (and dare I say new) set of ears. To save undergoing expensive, lengthy and traumatic surgery, one simply has to undertake a metaphorical disassembling of one’s previous hearing instruments, followed by a timely acquisition of appropriate replacements. My new ears met with Octopus4 in the same way that someone discovers an underground bunker-cum-nightclub replete with delicious sound and the promise of a morning warming up from euphoria-induced goose pimples.


The initial pulse of this track produced a mental image of bacteria splitting and reproducing. I often get such images from listening to instrumental tracks, with one such experience involving an experimental rock album and a multicoloured DNA strand animation playing just behind my eyes until I had to recover privately. I don’t know what this is, but it’s both beautiful and unsettling. Like the tracks that follow, the pace and build up is perfectly timed to give the listener a taste of Gallego’s vision.

Small note: As I didn’t mention this in last week’s review, I think it’s important to mention the drummer, Mike Malyan, and also the man who masters the tracks, Tim Reynolds. I can only imagine the intensity of discussion for a musical collaboration of this nature.

So then, this track keeps the balance of an audience-influenced *Live Music Approach, with the craftsmanship of something designed to be interpreted on a very personal level.

* – I feel a Live music approach is creating a track as if you were feeding from the imagined reactions of an audience who are in your head when you write.

The subtle drum and synthesizer work jumps in and lays off in just the right places. One very important thing to say about this in comparison to the first studio album. It signals the beginning of a work that is less metal than Polymorphic Code. It seems to be that these tracks are generated from a more dance / breakbeat part of Rémi’s mind.


The second track has quite a Mitch Murder meets Jean Michel Jarre and they make computer game soundtracks feel about it. That’s until it doesn’t, shifting gear into a time signature I haven’t figured out yet. Then it moves into a layer of rhythmic overdrive with a soundscape of synth. If you’re a drummer (air or real) the next section will have you demonstrating your skills in public, even if they’re deemed socially unacceptable. It’s a good time to point out that this album has more of a live drumming sound to it. And I’ll say that even though I may be right off the mark. It’s just plain intuition / observation. Long story short, it won’t disappoint.


This track gets to the point almost instantly. It almost has the flavour of a sample or gateway to what follows. At 1:57 it’s probably safe to say that a good many people will also come to this conclusion. Despite the brevity here, it’s one of my favourite pieces on Octopus4. It’s also on full computer game mode. For example, if you want to feel like you’re flying a virtual fighter jet through cumulus clouds full of gremlins playing bagpipes, then this track is probably for you. Furthermore, at the 35 second mark (I’ll call this section the pre-chorus) the drum lead-up is exquisite, building tension that’s almost distracting if you’re trying to keep an eye out for your train stop.

will smith

This track appears to have nothing to do with the bad rapper, passable actor, and man who crowbarred his son into the film industry, the honourable Will Smith. Or maybe it’s ironically dedicated (which could account for the lowercase spelling). This track does evolve rapidly, further confirming The Algorithm’s place as a real talent-engine when it comes to fusing multiple genres into one sequential, melodic and compelling package. My favourite part of this track comes about one minute in, then at 2:40. The one minute in section is a bit of tribal prog, whereas at 2:40 a tasteful groove kicks in with some crystal-sharp little touches to lend to the overall mix. I must admit, I didn’t like the opening much, but it shifts so quickly that I was impressed. This goes to prove really, if you don’t like what you hear in the first 30 seconds, you probably will in the next. Again, by and large, I have to say I rate this track.


It’s unlikely I’ll ever paste a blog section heading like this again, so I’ll revel in it a little. ピタゴラスPYTHAGORAS teases with an opening section that’s rich with attacking kick drum and tom fills. This underpins high-pitched synth notes which fall in line with the hit of the kick drum. Together, this gives the feeling of objects falling into place beyond the outer walls of some kind of factory full of eccentric night shift workers. There’s more, in the form of a complex melodic network operating alongside the two aforementioned features. The percussion build up and subsequent climax from 2:35 onwards pretty much confirms this track is another winner.


I’ve lost count of the amount of words I’ve ‘Added to dictionary’ today. This tracks maintains the momentum of what is a largely energetic album. The introduction is absolutely stellar. At 1:05 it breaks into a variation on a gangster rap groove. This small section on its own is a turning point for the album, reinstating (and I don’t think this can be mentioned enough) that part of The Algorithm’s artistic ethos is to create rhythmic and melodic pathways between previously disparate genres.

damage points

This distinguishes itself from the preceding tracks by starting with a loose, almost broken beat (where bass and snare samples attack at random). This emerges into a cohesive and original groove and synthesizer arrangement, which by itself could easily occupy me on a train ride through the noise-filtered London smog. Then Wam!, drum and bass, before combining the broken rhythm with the synth-groove arrangement. If listened to carefully, you’ll notice a cyclical pattern of motifs, which I think is where this track gets its strength from.


I believe this track channels Jean Michel Jarre quite keenly. If you sit with this on long enough in a darkened room with a whisky and soda water, you may imagine you’ve begun a transition into another bodily form. It’s distinctly meditative. The faint sample of an instructional video for some kind of data computing process? adds an eerie quality. The overall sound and texture is ambient, trance-like, created to convert one’s mind from formerly active to a sort of passive, weightless intoxication. A good feeling if you’re suited to opiates like me.


A deliberate link from ‘void’, ‘loading’ has the shape of a computer game adventure / eventual battle montage sequence. It is a pocket-sized musical journey. It’s references to the great gaming composers adds to a need to advance this medium structurally. Given what the following tracks have in store, the album now truly begins to take the shape of a computer game narrative.

un dernier combat

I’ve Google translated this one. It seems to mean ‘One Last Fight’, or ‘A final Combat’. From a narrative point of view, it signals a climactic point of aggression between a set of characters or opposing elements. As well as a return to previous motifs, such as the drop-catch rhythms heard in previous tracks, this also features French rapping towards the end. As my grasp of this particular language is, let’s say, very limited, I relied on the sound rather than the meaning of the words to form my critical reading of this track. Overall, not one of my favourites, but there’s so much more to compensate, that it qualifies for a fifty-fifty rating.

recovery fail!

The penultimate track on the album, ‘recovery fail’ has an untameable quality about it. During many parts of this track it has real prodigy feel. By 1:46 it moves from sinister little compositions to a fantastic section with voiceover breathing samples. It ends with meandering, bubbly keyboard and electrically charged sound effects to an effective and immediate stop.


The final track is the closest you’re going to get to a four-on-the-floor beat. Despite the East Asian influence, this could be confused with a pop song. Not for long, because terrestrial radio stations would explode the split second it sounded remotely unprofitable. If you found any other sections of this album not to your liking, then the final offering will help to tie things up perfectly.


I didn’t originally like this album beyond the first three songs. I’ll admit, I was pretty shallow about the whole collection. But on repeated listens, and having listened again in detail for this review, I’ve changed my mind significantly. It is a swift reminder of the continuous invention running through this, and the previous album.

The Algorithm


Rémi Gallego the genius

alt="Remi Gallego"

Clearly it has been an age since I cast words into the web void. That’s why I’ve decided to go from famine to feast with a molecular breakdown of an album I am developing a ‘healthy’ obsession for. The album is Polymorphic Code by electronic music space inhabitants / dominators The Algorithm. Although this music project truly touches upon a lot of sub-genres (dubstep, drum and bass, trance, IDM, mathcore, djent, progressive metal), let’s just play simple and call it all electronic.

My plan is to follow this post with a gentle turfing over of Octopus 4.

I feel I need to personally thank the master behind this project, Rémi Gallego, a French (wow!, you mean the name didn’t give it away?) musician who’s created the melodic equivalent of a cure for sitting still. It’s musical ADHD designed to aid and abet the distraction pandemic currently burning too many generations to categorise effectively in this post.

If you’re the kind of person who finds themselves endlessly flicking between tracks, then now you have a reason not to feel guilty for doing so, because the chances are, if you listen to The Algorithm, the music is already one step ahead and has beaten you on the pea-sized attention span stakes.

Polymorphic Code

alt="polymorphic code"

‘How the hell was this album patched together and pulled off so effortlessly?’ you may find yourself asking until the answer requires an essay. Despite it being a multi-generic musical soup, the opening track:

Handshake is tweaked tastefully to prevent it from sounding like a shape shifting organism. The opening few seconds are ghostly, conjuring images of an alien presence hovering just behind the veil of a horizon. The message is fairly clear: something’s coming and it doesn’t care what’s in the way. The door opens on a shape that takes around 25 minutes to emerge.

Beyond this semi-formed shape is a blast of machine-gun bass drum kicks, with synthesizer arpeggios leaping in broken rhythms. The sound is always full, constantly changing, and permanently about to reach a climax that will invariably pass on to some other pattern, theme or phrase. Distracted yet? Somehow it still works, but how? My guess is because this Frenchman doesn’t wake every day to hear the world as many people do. The world of sound and of noise is chaos-ridden, and it’s his job to shape it. To add to this, he links the tracks (and indeed the entire album) by:

A – Consistency of melody (helping to draw your attention away from the continuous genre shift)

B – Consistency of rhythm (knowing full well how rhythms from even very different genres have a significant crossover potential)

C – Linking the tracks together using music motifs (I made this term up on the spot, but it’s basically when a particular phrase is played quietly early on, then used as a focal point down the line).

Despite the constant shift, this music has been carefully worked out (unsurprisingly even more so than a simple pop hook). And yet, these tracks are littered with hooks. Hook after hook after hook, so boredom is no longer an option.

Bouncing Dot

This track is a musical game of pass the parcel involving only two players. Player 1 is drummy and bassy and trancey and likes chilling while their mind casually fills in the gaps left by a soft pulse and simple beat, while Player 2 is pissed because someone told them that a bucket of hundreds and thousands isn’t an acceptable musical breakfast. Just in case you’re wondering, Player 2 isn’t so laid back. They’re a bit of a screaming, sprinting one arm push up on legs. They also hate Tom Selleck (sorry for this recurring theme, but who hates Tom Selleck?, only nubes).

Life note:

Having refreshed myself with a bike ride through sheets of cutting rain, I am now ready to complete this blog post.

Around the 3 minute mark this track begins to slow down, a fact which would please my fictional Player 1 more than the frantic, muscle-bludgeoned Player 2. The tension then builds to a final climax of bleepity bleep and metal riffage. Then a little motif comes in, a suggestion of what’s coming directly after.


To say that this track is one for drummers does, and also doesn’t work. The initial snare work will bring about goosebumps among certain members of the percussion community, but pretty much every track features impressive drum work. The unique Algorithmic approach of creating tracks that seem to span off in many directions yet have the symmetry of an ice crystal, features again here. The opening sequence soon moves into djenty riffs and rhythms before negotiating a host of other genres and returning, characteristically back to its djentist roots. In my opinion it’s one of the best tracks on the album.

Access Granted

The djent exposure in the previous track is magnified in the opening of Access Granted. At first I found this to be too much, until, like my curry breakthrough period, I came to love its nihilistic intensity. To keep things interesting it flips back and forth between styles, still preserving coherence with a seamless brilliance I haven’t comes across before in music. Some aspects of this track can only be expressed by actually setting up my drumkit and demonstrating how they’re executed. Given the restrictions of the blog medium, I think I’ll stick to words and just say Access Granted is manic, caustically rendered, organised chaos.

Logic Bomb

I’ve repeatedly made a mental note to mention that exactly between the 28th and 29th seconds there’s a drum roll used to sex up part of the introduction. I know this observation is going to galvanise my music-nube status, but what the hell, I’m one of a global bevy of skinny, nervy, musical eclecticist-analysts. Although I want to pick holes in the transition that comes next, I found myself humbled by how slick it is. It moves to a breakbeat before, if you can map this in your eardrum, winds up and takes off through techno, then almost all of the previously mentioned genre / sub-genres.

Warp Gate Exploit

This reminded me off Deadmau5 until around 2:05. Then it’s a domino-line of power chords and arpeggios (sort of twinkly-winkly sounding). It takes a person who has seen a small number of almost capable DJs (so can I ever be the right judge here?) to say that Rémi Gallego, in true DJ style, knows how to pace a track, an album, a musical entity. His experience is stark, with an album that will keep well for years to come. The final section of this track is atmospheric breathing space. Electronically or otherwise, some sort of feedback / harmonic / violining? sound effects are combined with brooding synth. This is soon joined by multiple finger snap samples and a beat which I’ll describe as the one that Massive Attack use a hell of a lot. The end result? A perfectly balanced piece of musicianship.


I wouldn’t exactly call myself a fan of Null. Rather I’d say that I was so impressed by everything leading up to it, that the track was coloured by the success of all that came before it. But it’s still good, which should indicate to you that even my least favourite tracks on this album seemed to have something in them. One last thing about this one. It did seem to indicate clearly its intention of being the penultimate track on Polymorphic Code.


It’s in the name with this one. I say that because most people would probably have to study for a special set of qualifications to understand the meaning of various titles on this album. This track really races to finish (a bit like me after having written almost a 1300 word review). It starts quite trancey, then moves on to an IDM flavour. The it’s off to something like a band going nuts at the end of a gig / if you turned up both the speed and volume on an arcade game. Just listening to it again now reminds me how much I want this album to be the all consuming computer game soundtrack for generations to come.


Whatever anyone says about this album, there is one thing that is undeniable. It’ll take you on a journey. It’ll also make its intentions clear from the outset. In the category of potentially deniable, it may even nudge some concrete trancers over into the djent camp, or vice versa. This kind of music is perfect for potential or existing musical eclecticists. More importantly though, this album achieves that thing a perfect album should. It sounds like one piece of unbreakable work, where if a track is taken away, it’s tragic, and yet each track is its own accomplished little album.

Music for work motivation

Music for work motivation

I recently finished a pretty intensive content migration project. After uploading squillions of Word and PDF documents, I went from being a person who hadn’t previously listened to music in the office, to a dubstep, house and synthpop fan. I think I’d liked these music genres all along, but the freelance gig helped to galvanise my passion. I have played drums for many years, so I guess it was only a matter of time before I got hooked on these genres. It didn’t stop there. For almost two months I became that person in the office who never takes their earphones out. They were practically fused to my head. I do regret my antisocial behaviour, but I listened to a lot of good music along the way. On top of this, I found that my work performance was linked specifically to the type of music I was listening to. For example, I love listening to Philip Glass but his melodies fill me with such sadness that my motivation enters the minus numbers. Conversely, The Prodigy seem to inject my personality and productivity with edge. As a result of my experience, I decided to list my top ten tracks for work motivation. They are as follows:

1. Cephei – Deadmau5 – For uploading documents to a Content Management System

This track is great if you want to feel like any move you make next has potential. I remember how my blood flooded with energy when I first heard this, and its effect never seems to subside. I play it when I want to kick ass in the office, in a completely administrative sense obviously. Imagine what you could achieve by feeling this good. Until I heard this, and other tracks by Joel Zimmerman, I barely ever listened to progressive-house music. Here I am, now a committed fan.

2. First It Giveth – Queens of the Stone Age – For spread-sheeting

A little piece of melodic thunder, First It Giveth makes me want to dance, drink beer and hug strangers. Like many people, I wouldn’t deign to perform any of these actions in an office. I warn you – not based on previous experience – the authorities will likely be summoned. Unlike some other pieces of music I have listened to, this track actually makes Excel sheet tasks slightly less hellish than they truly are. I also want to make a special mention of the little instrumental breaks with the snare and acoustic guitar. These tasteful sections help to pull the elastic of the song back so it can be released through the hooks of the verse and the chorus. Overall, this track is prime working material.

3. Kyoto – SKRILLEX – For general document checking

My first experience of Dubstep wasn’t a pleasant one. I was in Tallinn on a stag weekend feeling incredibly uncomfortable in a huge, smoke-filled club surrounded by broken glass and boiling bodies. I had the fear and couldn’t see more than two feet in front of me in some cases. I was also going Tee-total at the time because I had the irrational idea of dying from further alcohol. Now I simply rely on a sudden surge of chest pain to act as the sign to start drinking iced water. In essence, Skrillex is a high quality brand of dubstep / electro house, made with choice drum compositions and thoughtful hooks. If you’ve ever picked up drum sticks then this may well be your bag. Kyoto is a must for office power, with a tight rap groove and tasteful jabs of keyboard. I’ve made some of my most elaborate sandwiches to this track.

4. Violent Youth – Crystal Castles – For document reordering

Oh the goosebumps. My ears ate Crystal Castles albums for three weeks straight. Violent Youth kept me awake – and dare I say alive – through long stints of reordering PDF and Word documents in Moodle. Ouch, sometimes it was like kicking a paperweight down a long corridor. I kept motivated by the beautiful, sad melody of this track, in tandem with the lyrics. The juxtaposition of disturbing subject matter and positive dance beat made me bob my head while clicking up down arrows.

5. Mr. Ssa (싸군) – PsyFive – For use during office conversations

The only thing worse than moving a plastic mouse for a living, is discussing it with colleagues. The sad thing is, when you’re a contractor, you spend most of your time adding acquaintances to the Facebook ice pile. To make up for this social void, it is important not to top up too much on songs with a high goose bump count, and instead, go for something that is simply fun. If you can put up with the jokey Korean beer and shopping advert at the start of PsyFive, then I recommend giving this album a go. I found myself getting hooked to the Korean syllable structure mixed with a break beat. Psy’s party personality cuts through this album, and the opening track, Mr. Ssa (싸군) is reason enough to make a friend like Psy.

6. Falling – HAIM – For not working

With an irregular heartbeat to start, Falling is the perfect track if you don’t want to do anything. I tried to work while listening to this and failed. It is a rich mix of Annie Lennox style vocals and Toto drum references. Thus I found I could only sit back and enjoy the bass lines and touches of vocal melody. For the cynics among us it is only too easy to hear the references to the eighties palate of sounds. However, I wasn’t put off. For those funky, shuddering bass lines alone, it is worth including on my list.

7. Girls – The Prodigy – For picking up the pace

This is dangerous for people who want to stay still in their seat. I don’t think there are currently any rules about in-office gyration, but I’ve often seen office space as a tempting opportunity for cartwheeling. After you’ve been awash with a tight burst of emotion with Falling, a few gyrations might be the trick. Girls is ideally matched to this activity. Not that you need a musical excuse to do this, but Girls is a track that doesn’t mess around. Twenty six seconds in and you’ll pick up the slack with no problem.

8. The Way of All Flesh – Gojira – For rapid email sending

Okay, you’ve been sitting on your hands avoiding that barrage of emails you can’t be bothered to answer. It’s time to bring out the French death metal. These guys are not your average growling, church burning, weight lifting, Jägermeister metal heads. Why? They know how to write hooks, thus transcending genre to prove that great song writing is all that matters. The drummer has the coolest name on the planet: Mario Duplantier. All our names pale by comparison. The beat in this track is technically known as innovative awesomeness. This song is a prime example of their ability to catch the listener with a powerful hook, then release them at just the right time. Do this enough times, you’ve got what’s called a hot record. Please don’t be scared non-metal fans. Give them a try, I promise it won’t be like cough mixture.

9. Logic Bomb – The Algorithm – For desk de-cluttering

If music was a leaf blower it would be The Algorithm. This mix of dubstep, drum and bass, trance, progressive metal – okay, everything but twelve bar blues – has travelled from the brain of Rémi Gallego, who either has a lot of creative energy, or is insane, but like many of these things it’s probably an unhealthy combination of the two. Either way, I like the output. This guy can shift drum patterns, melodies and hooks – and even has the time to throw in recurring melodic themes – like no one else I’ve ever heard. The best thing is, it’s pretty seamless. Anyone with ears should take a dose of the Algorithm, but I warn you, it’s not for the sleep deprived.

10. Swan Lake – Finale – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – For total immersion

If you ever find yourself wondering how music can reduce people to tears, then it’s necessary to consider such fine vintage as Tchaikovsky. No wonder this man had a beard. Frankly, if I was that good, I would probably be too busy and talented to shave. I’m convinced he carried the burden of the world’s pain and exultation in his head, letting it out in musical form. Without doubt, this is one of the most uplifting pieces of music I’ve ever heard. It’s always a privilege, but be careful. The score is so powerful and well constructed, you may find yourself making mistakes at work. You could send someone into battle on this stuff.

A brief conclusion

Make sure you test the boundaries of your office environment before breaking out the moves. Get a feel for the physical space. I find that music has the power to carve out an entirely convincing world, a little planet in my head constructed of pure inspiration. It’s worth throwing in a few gyrations, desk taps, or even head bobs to see if it’s welcome, or if you’re busting corporate etiquette wide open. You may work in the kind of place where you need to think on your feet, or listen out for information passing around the space you inhabit. If you’re in telephone sales, the only thing you’re going to have attached to your ear is a telephone. In which case your senses are a tool for business, not for pleasure. I have worked in many office environments over the last decade, and honestly, I wish I’d listened harder to music from day one.

Jonathan Markwood’s debut solo release


Music may be the greatest conveyor of human emotion, and with this in your brain, take Jonathan Markwood’s latest solo album, ‘Welcome To Planet Earth’. If you’ve heard his previous work under the Hoo-Hah Conspiracy umbrella then you’ve no doubt followed his musical journey, and what you’ll realise is this album cuts closer to the bone than any other. The first track on the album, Live Until You Die opens with hovering synth before the bass stalks to the first lines. “Robert Divine when out of his mind, the holes closed in behind him”. Markwood begins with characteristic narrative style, while at the same time signalling a new direction to his work. “Take my advice, You want to keep your soul alive, Don’t think twice, You better learn to live until you die”.

Forty Five combines down to earth reasoning on the realities of life with dark humour. “I’m just a normal man, I have a family, I have a bank account. I looked you up, I know where you live, And when you least expect, You’ll get back what you give”. The pop-funk guitar riff and thumping beat drive this song all the way to an Alto Reed-esque saxophone break. The final lyrics, “Hand me my forty five” perfectly convey the juxtaposition of comic and sinister.

Superman is honest, unpretentious and bloody catchy. It turns up the volume on the overall theme of life taking a positive turn. The lyrics, “I was so stranded and so lonely, With only the loneliest plan” have a universal quality topped off with a deeply personal spin. “Then along came you to me, I need to learn how to be a good man”. It is a beautiful and bouncy celebration of bringing new life into the world. When I heard this for the first time I was reminded of Johnny Depp’s meditations on fatherhood. “It’s all about perspective. When your baby comes along you go: “Oh, that’s what it’s all about.” This track made me want to jump for joy.

Strange Things filters the past through the knowing mind of the present. In vocal style it references David Bowie and Peter Gabriel, and musically it resembles a montage through a smoke filled London club where people try to cure ennui with pills. The guitar riff and subtle variation on a disco beat make for an unsettling and original track. This is balanced by Markwood’s natural ability to see pain through a humorous lens. “Everybody needs someone to need them, My analyst and me didn’t hit it off”.

The central track of the album, Welcome To Planet Earth (Beautiful Girl) is further testament to Markwood’s musical and lyrical talent. It is free of complication, and if I am wrong shoot me, but I believe it is a love letter to his newborn daughter.

An Unfortunate Display of Emotion is one of my favourite tracks on the album. It cleverly combines an infectious, John Deacon-esque bass line in the verse with a chorus that shifts into gorgeous funk rhythm guitar and rich vocals. This track is yet another example of Jonathan’s gift for changing style, but because of his craftsmanship, this goes seemingly unnoticed.

His chameleon talent is on display again in Mary Shelley, where the acoustic guitar and natural drum sound underpin Markwood’s vision of the world. “Mary Shelley has deserted me, She created me, She must have hated me”. This powerful chorus points to the romantic and gothic sides of Markwood’s multifaceted personality.

Fast Car is brave and brazen with a chorus that I don’t want to get out of my head. This is mainly down to the use of falsetto that Markwood did not explore enough in previous albums. The trombone melody at the end reminded me of many a brilliant musical arrangement from ‘Trombone Shorty’. There was also a fantastic little drum break mixed in with the chorus approximately three minutes in that I loved, so this gets its own mention.

The final song on the album, What Flows Through Blood glues the overriding theme of the record together. “The road is glass, Our body’s sand, We’re carriers across this land”. These lyrics are suffused with the realisation that our time here is fleeting. But I do not feel sad, because the mood of this track is hopeful. The chorus lays life’s true priorities bare for the listener. “What flows through blood is all of your love and mine”. This is not simply a universal striving after the tangible, but Markwood’s view of what matters in life.

This album is Jonathan Markwood’s most moving material to date. I have listened thoroughly to the two previous albums, ‘Tips & Tricks for the Modern Age’, and ‘No Light After Dark’, and I feel like I’ve witnessed the narrative arc in his life and music. It is difficult to truly compare his albums to anything I’ve previously heard, because, like all of his songs, they are uniquely his.

Welcome back to music Jonathan, it’s been too long: http://www.jonathanmarkwood.com

Words by Phillip Cogger

Cocos Lovers – The Wilmington Arms – 13/01/2010


By 8.35pm Cocos Lovers had set their instruments up in the middle of the room, the stage behind them undisturbed. I observed this process with a knot in my stomach, the remaining audience members in greater knots of expectation. I’d never heard, or even heard of them before. I speculated on the collection on the collection of percussive trinkets fastened to a weather beaten orange bass drum. I wondered at which point they would be brought into use and with what degree of force. The man behind the drum placed the banjo on his lap with fatherly care. My attention shifted to the violinist, lead guitarist, bass player, rhythm guitarist and flute player.

A smile fixed permanently on my face even before they began to play and didn’t leave until they’d finished their set. A semicircle of bosoms rose and fell. The girls to the right of me filled the room with a blush of pagan vibrancy. I felt the wrench of discovery even if it wasn’t my own. The grim reality of alcoholic abstinence subsided. So did the narcissism and brief gratifications of working London. I forgot myself and we forgot each other. The opening track, Time to Stand had the power to do this.

Cocos Lovers have supported Mumford and Sons, 6 Day Riot and Alessis Ark. I am familiar with none of these bands and only gave Mumford and Sons a quick listen after the show. What matters is they make you fall for an aesthetic attributable to them alone. This goes beyond trend, association, and the great grey seaside of the internet. I was lucky enough to catch this performance. In many respects, it was most random that I did. I spoke with them afterwards and they were modest. The audience and I were truly humbled.

The band are set to release their album Johannes, in March with a release party taking place at The Astor Theatre in Deal in Kent. They will be playing at Bearded Theory Festival, Small World Festival and Sunrise Festival throughout May and June. I myself plan to be squeezed up against a stage or standing among the trodden grass to repeat the experience of the 13 January at The Wilmington Arms.


Words by Phillip Cogger

Everything Everything – Institute of Contemporary Arts – 04/11/09

The Institute of Contemporary Arts upper floor bar is occupied by serial daters, couples unwinding in post-coital serenity, recovering divorcee born again alternative post-punk enthusiasts, and twenty something’s in circulation stabbing leg wear, shoes collectively exhibiting the transience of past and present fashion. Both the innards of the bar and serving point are heavily pregnant with soft mood pinks, greens, turquoise blues and purples. I am sitting on an orange plastic chair bolted to the floor. The hand cut chips with aioli sauce arrive late and are beyond divine.

By 21:45 I’m butting past loiterers and semi-fans to position myself in prime location when a ginger nest riding the ears of Lee Evans rises from meditation into my line of judgement. Jonathan (voice, guitar, laptop) negotiates equipment to plant duct tape on a herd of cables advancing off the stage. Alex (guitar, voice) and Jeremy (bass, voice and keys) cross over and pause to restore balance to microphone stands and amplifier settings as well as to fine tune their instruments.

They open with ‘Tin (the manhole)’, the chorister and his guitar under an expanding cylinder of white light, the perfect effect for what is an ethereal and haunting synergy of cleverly arranged sampling and vocal sections. This track drew me hypnotically in, innovative in its conception, stunning in its delivery. I was not familiar with the following track, but by no means did I attempt to mime unfamiliar lyrics out of the corner of my mouth like an anus at an armpit party. I merely relished material which (new to my ears) left me all the more invigorated. Next came ‘Suffragette Suffragette’ (which like the promise of dry land in the distance beyond Britain’s cultural maelstrom) show cased the methodical genius of a drummer in peak condition. The surrounding bodies were in fits and jolts about the floor in front of the stage. They out perform their own recordings effortlessly. Everything Everything possess stage presence the likes of which cannot be formulated by divine intervention or pills, but through refinement and rigorous attention to detail, a gut conviction in approach, style and execution.

I turned round and the place was rammed. ‘Hiawatha Domed’ launched an already platinum show into orbit and I was finally going ape with the crowd who were busting nuts in circular around me. The band became something new for me from that point onwards. Certain chemical elements unfathomable draw you to a group or set of musicians, I don’t know what it is? Generally it defies explanation because if you could find the words it wouldn’t be worth the silence. I got the same spinal shivers when I listened to Florence and the Machine for the first time or ‘Silent Alarm’ by Bloc Party (whose stylistic approach incidentally is similar to that of Everything Everything). ‘NASA is on your side’ is not the band’s Magnum Opus yet still was I hit with the espresso wings of childish joy.

It was at this point they began to skilfully read the audience with the piercing glance of professionals. Not that they can’t do this while they’re performing, but they approach quietly, they’re not loud or brash; it’s a wry smile a grin of knowing.

They haven’t been around long enough to cut loose one of their biggest hits, ‘My Keys Your Boyfriend’ but for a minute I thought they might not play it. One of the band’s biggest box tickers (not to mention sexiest music videos, a plethora of scattered hotties) this track could be used as musical CPR at any after wedding get together.

Then it happened. They left the stage. Then again I had caught mention of ‘the last one’. After eloping they returned to play ‘Photoshop Handsome’, sweaty piles to the left and right of me, perspiration soaked digital cameras. My eye then caught a professional photographer at the front of the stage who I lamped, and making-like-tree with the equipment out the venue I got hijacked, receiving multiple bindings of tape to the legs, arms and mouth, bundled into a glossy black BMW and thrown out in, hmm, Ealing Broadway? If you think that sounds amazing go see Everything Everything, they are twice times amazing.


Words by Phillip Cogger