Monday, 16 August 2010

Hologram by These New Puritans

Here’s a good video for Hologram by These New Puritans. This is one of the quieter, more reflective moments from their recent LP Hidden, which is a wonderful mix of offbeat percussion (both lightly chiming and crushingly pounding), gorgeous brass arrangements (played by the Britten Sinfonia) and concrete sounds (including a recurrent slicing swoosh, as of swords being drawn). There is a jazz-like feel to the song’s offbeat syncopations and zig-zagging melody. The piano has a slight hint of John Cage-like pre-preparedness, and there’s an affecting vulnerability to singer Jack Barnett’s delivery. You could imagine Robert Wyatt singing this. Comparisons with Wire’s Colin Newman are also perhaps inevitable (and I’m sure have been made), not least due to a certain physical resemblance, but Barnett’s voice is definitely his own. A couple of possibilities for future collaborations there, though. The film has much of the atmosphere of videos of the late 70s and early 80s post punk era, and could almost be seen as a pastiche. There’s the monochrome black and white photography, the band playing in some anonymous and decaying warehouse bunker, the moody looks, with glances up to the camera as if suddenly awaking from a moment of profound introspection. Thankfully, there are no long grey overcoats. But it’s simple, it works and I like it. The emotive pianist (presumaby Sophie Sleigh-Johnson) with her negative twin works against the general mood of restraint and stillness, crying onto the surface of her instrument’s reflective casing whilst Barnett, in contrast, remains withdrawn and hunched up into himself throughout, crouched on the floor. In the end he seems to have been awakened from his state of morose isolation, and stands with his arms held out, back to the camera, conjoining (and joining with) the split pianistic twins in a final upbeat tableau. These New Puritans are playing with The Britten Sinfonia at The Barbican on 23rd October. Should be a memorable evening.

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