'Sky Turns Black'
Near Google-proof Manchester mob, have a curiously analysable name, and an even more mystical track.
Availability: 'Sky Turns Black' is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qtaibf8GUWk
I'll desist with any prefabricated ramblings on the state of music...
like I perhaps would on any other day. I have slowly made peace with the Devil on my left shoulder, who has an unquenchable desire to have the likes of Bieber, JLS and Ke$sha dunked slowly into a critical volcano. It is with lamentable misty-eyed regret that I am announcing that I will take a brief sabbatical from reviewing bands from Manchester. There's nothing I like more, but feel that their superiority has been established and etched into the record books. Or I may return next week. I'm a bit like a '70s band that way. I am quite pliable and interchangeable when it comes to music. I'm not quite sure if there is something in the water up that way, but I will take a sip of whatever bands are sipping. It is always curious and fascinating when keeping an eye on the migrating epicentre of musical sp0lendor. Like a meteorologist or storm chaser, there is little way to predict where the next storm or hurricane will emanate from; and one is always on ones toes trying to predict the changing tide. There is no fate, destiny, true love, ghosts, God, astrology, true love, love at first sight, someone for everyone, perfection, psychics, or any other associated vague science. Music does not rely upon spiritual declaration or a fungible mindset. There is always factual pride and a simple truth, whether the act or artists is terrible, terrific or ego-laden.
Bauer are a veritable life raft in a vast ocean. There is always trepidation and anxiety when approaching a new act. They are most tricky, when trying to collate their collective. There is a lot of Bauer intrigue. Big companies, obscure little avenues and boring irreverence. I was wondering whether there name derived from an amalgamation of Berliner Mauer (German for 'The Berlin Wall'). Perhaps it was taken from the series '24', and the central figure, Jack Bauer. They are seductively elusive with regards to their nominal origin. It is a tantalising nugget I shall have to coax from them at a later date. The band themselves consist of Greg, Lee, Neil and Michael, and are a newly formed powerhouse of song. Since their creation last year, they have been purging and innovating, both speculatively and physically- managing to transcend any reticence or fallibility within the closed ranks of musical circles; bringing their infectious sonic chemtrail through skies, over horizons, and to the ears, radios and homes far afield. There have been a small handful of tracks present on Sound Cloud and the band's site, for a little while now. It is clear that they have a proletariat work ethic, and have put their heads down, and focused hard on mastering a number of memorable songs that defies you to listen and becoming enamoured. Now they have an album out, called 'Sleeping Giant'. The title is, one suspects as much a political manifestation as it is a name to a face. The tracks that lie within the gentle beast, are Calvinist and pioneering. I shall do my uttermost to do true justice to the album, by examining its lead off single.
The initial vitals are promising, and give me little to become concerned about. In fact, the soothing and colourful synthesising and electronic Jacuzzi has some stature to it. There is a little bit of Queen, strangely. If you imagine the intros to 'Radio Ga Ga' and some of the more epic numbers from the associating album 'The Works'. Happily, Bauer's flammable energy produces a more satisfying and intelligent effort than 'Radio Ga Ga'. There is a strum and drang pulse, as well as a cooling breeze to the tones, before a cursive drum beat prostrates to the sparkling guitar haze that opens the track up, and gets the blood flowing. It puts you at ease, and puts you on the edge of your seat; unsure of what direction the lyrics and ensuing vocals will take. Before we get there, the introduction strides and twirls girlishly, the solid percussion joining and annotating the electronic threads and creating a combination sample that is both 'radio friendly' and independent, all at once. It is a sorcery that has been employed by the likes of The Killers, U2, Kings of Leon as well as contemporaries such as Keane. The drive is neutered to allow the vocal to share spotlight. There is a cross-gender appeal to the vocals of Greg Matthews. There is a masculine sensitivity to the delivery, with hints of Thom Yorke and Matt Bellamy. The sweetness lingers too in its mellifluousness, permeating smiles and sighs in the same breath. There is a soulful croon, which is backed nobly and professional by the rest of the band. They infuse enough energy to put a yellow highlighter through all of the lyrics, yet kneels as daipher, majordomo, falconer and almoner. The cohorts all play their parts and blend science with spirituality, as "the darkness in your eyes" is intoned softly. As the chorus come into force and our front-man proclaims that: "I can make the sky turn black", with impudent irony, there are new colours and shades in the sound and structure of the song. We shift up into 4th gear, the pace quickens, and there is a stadium-ready accessibility to it. I have closed my hearts and tries to glimpse for adjectives within my subconscious. I hear shades of Boy George in the vocal, but being uniquely attuned to the subject of vocal genetics, I am hard-pressed to hint at any other comparisons. That combination duo of historical quality and a fresh and youthful. I was struck by the evocative strum of electrics. Maybe a little bit of classic '80s and '90s Manchester (The Smiths, The Stone Roses etc.), twinned with a singular and circular indie/rock snap, the ensuing British melting pot mothers a beautiful child, with prime D.N.A. With a repetition of the chorus- instigated and apportioned one suspects to elicit an emotional surge and bring the listener 'up- there is a mood shift of tranquil somnambulist. There is a sprinkling of 'Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy'-piano, that trips on tiptoes, and taps its crystal Morse Code into the musical Hippocratic Oath. If you think we are settling into a balletic intermission- think again! Revving its engine is the sound of synthesisers, and a repeated plea of "feels so easy now". The chorus reinstates itself, hovering like a black angel, unfurling his wings over the fair city. Although there is a pervading sense of muted maturity and realisation ("Been wandering/'round your town too long"); the thematic elements consist of changes in romantic feeling; mutated landscapes, and doubts, there is no sense of depression. The music is always invigorating, and often highly-charged, whilst the vocals are impassioned and strong. We touch down in the land of the delta blues, flanked by a balanced buzz of guitar feedback, a little in the same way Radiohead's 'Sulk' did on 'The Bends', only it is more empathic here, a bit more Queens of the Stone Age-cum-Muse.
I'll sum up, without analysing what is already out there and where Bauer fit amongst their peers, in the grand scheme of things. On the evidence of this track, I am super keen to hear the album, and if there are more songs like this, regardless of the weather, this Summer will be bright and very hot. They have a talent for creating tight and stunning songs, never straying too far away from the genuine sounds of Manchester, yet integrating American and London tones, to bolster and feed their hungry monster of a curiosity. The vocals are unique and pleasing; strong, supply, wide-ranging and tender. I was impressed by the guitar and synths' electronics, which never showboat or posed for photos, instead aid the swing of the song, and infuse it with curiosity, drive and emotion. The overall effect is one which will stir everyone who listens to the song, and will implore you to seek out other Bauer nuggets. There will be- I hope- heady anticipation and expectation with regards to the album. Manchester is producing a sterling squad of players, akin and equivocal to their football overlords Manchester United. I do hope thgere is a unity and brotherly loyalty amongst the slew of local bands, instead of any needless rivalry, as there is no need. Together, the associated talent can join forces and dominate the U.K. as well as take their sound across the Atlantic, and show the U.S. what they should be doing. Turns out I did end on a pontificating and historical note...