thu 30/03/2017

CD: Micachu & The Shapes - Good Sad Happy Bad | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Micachu & The Shapes - Good Sad Happy Bad

CD: Micachu & The Shapes - Good Sad Happy Bad

Avant-garde art-pop from erstwhile BAFTA nominee

The result is an album that sounds loose, and free
'Collaborative eccentricity': Micachu & the Shapes

Bands that stand out live often disappoint on record: it can be difficult to capture the energy, the ferociousness, the vitality that makes a group of musicians special when you freeze it in time. Experimental pop trio Micachu & the Shapes - who have the dubious distinction of being one of the best live acts I’ve ever seen yet one whose music I’ve never been able to enjoy at home - have probably come as close to doing so as is possible on Good Sad Happy Bad. The album began life as an extended jam session, sneakily recorded by drummer Marc Pell.

The result is an album that sounds loose, and free - the sound of BAFTA-nominated classically trained composer Mica Levi shaking off the otherworldly precision that so haunted those who heard her work in Under the Skin and sharing moments of pure joy with likeminded friends and collaborators. Ignore the misleading title: opening track “Sad” comes in all laser-guns blazing and sketchy, trip-hop drum beat, a ragged rage against all negative emotion. And you can practically hear the peals of laughter underneath the purposively discordant refrain of lo-fi summer holiday warp-fest “Sea Air” and cheeky stream-of-consciousness monologue “Thinking It”.

But even when you think they’re slacking off, Micachu & the Shapes exist to confound, to intrigue and to challenge. It’s not always a pleasant listen - “Waiting” sounds like a cross between Satan’s own hold-music and a dude in a hockey mask sharpening his knives outside your cabin in the woods; and “Unity” is a primal scream found sound nightmare - but it’s mostly a fulfilling one. And although there are hat-tips to the unsettling soundscapes Levi has been so rightly lauded for in her other life such as the hauntingly minimalist “Oh Baby” and “Dreaming”, a track more twinkling and alien than the Andromeda galaxy, this is collaborative eccentricity that sounds like nothing else.

Overleaf: listen to "Oh Baby"

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters