Sunday, 11 October 2009
My Lunch time with Epic45 & July Skies
12 noon prompt the email said and not too long after that the studded doors of the Union Chapel swing open. It seemed a little shame to heading inside on such a bright sunny day thankfully the next couple of hours proved worth missing a few milligrams of vitamin D for.
As we shuffled in music was already playing, the last few bars of the sound check. While people took a pew and after a little bit of tweaking July Skies begin. Now before we start this is a huge vaulted church all the bands today play looped swirling intense guitar music so the only problem with using the “cathedrals of sound” cliché is I think the Union Chapel is a nonconformist congregation and so they don’t have bishops!
All the bands today are from the Make Mine Music label, July Skies and Epic 45 being linked by personnel.
July skies music is an open gently intense guitar sound mixed with keyboards and recorded found clips. They are unashamedly nostalgic , the impetus for some of their songs coming from their responses to visiting old air force bases, costal defence stations etc and even the building of Harlow new town. Live and on record their music feels like it’s playing in down the other end of echoey dusty corridor, adding to the dislocated atmosphere their singer Antony Harding half whispers in a high register. The music is very beautiful and fills the space wonderfully. After 4 or 5 song and with the odd “thanks” and “cheers” they finish and pack up.
Next up is Yellow 6 (I have a confession to make I was cueing for tea and bacon rolls* when this set started) but heard most of the songs. Yellow 6 turns out to be a solitary chap Jon Attwood, hidden beneath the brow of a black army hat playing looped and swelling repetitive chiming sometimes twanging guitar instrumentals. I think oddly this kind of music is better to listen to than to watch. There is something slightly disconcerting about seeing the only musician on stage stoop to have swig of tea while all the time his delicate music continues to play. I’m afraid I spent some of the set wondering why the frieze of stone behind the alter had Romanesque arches and not pointy Norman ones like the rest of the church. I feel Yellow 6’s music like a lot on ambient tunes may be better after it’s had time to seep in a little.
Then in short order on amble Epic45, two or three members already familiar from July Skies (singers Benjamin T Holton and Robert Glover). The way to separate the two bands sounds is the “the Epics” have more beats and grooves than the more palatial JS and although they have a similar semi-rural “edgeland” feel to their music it feels more modern. Mixing familiar songs and at least one new one their swirling (there’s no other word for it) sounds and vocals build magically, the drummer mixing with the electronics beats and synth sounds organically. There’s even some toy xylophone which never fails to please.
Sadly just as they were hitting their stride and with the glow of the autumn sun still bursting through the dusty stained glass they finish and amble off again to warm applause of the couple of hundred strong crowd.
Short and sweet all round.
July skies and Epic45 both have new lps out.
Free gigs on Saturday lunch time must be a good idea, as is using spaces like Union Chapel out of hours.
Not so good things:
The hard pews!
Onions in a bacon sandwich!!!
Oh and I was in such a good pleasant relaxed mood that coming out into the bright sunshine into the "yummy mummy" fancy bakery random cuisine eatery 3 wheeled pram foccacia stuffed hell that is Upper street was a bit of a shock. Fortunately jumping on a bus lead to better things elsewhere.
*yes I’ve reached the point where the gig staple overpriced luke warm pint of Carling in a plastic glass is no match for a brew and some salty hot pork,