Track Of The Week: Tiny Giant – Joely/How

A few months ago, a statement was issued on this site about the creative force behind Tiny Giant and that they are likely to be one of the most exciting acts to keep an eye on in 2016. That was solely based on two tracks on Soundcloud, with no prior release date, nor word of a forthcoming release, EP or album. Their forte is the melding of a mesmerising dream-pop haze à la Goldfrapp and a titanic progressive rock crunch; a near-unique pairing in a musical climate so vast and so adverse to standing out, that those tuned in, numbers growing daily, have awaited some form of release with bated breath. For those personnel, that wait has come to an end and if you are just joining us on the official maiden voyage of Tiny Giant, your timing couldn’t have been more impeccable.

Since the beginning of this year, the impression was given that Seeing Everything As Though It Is Real and Heavy Love may have been first for a public release, as the very first introductory tracks to this terrific musical partnership and as they have been now circulating Soundcloud for the best part of half a year. Come this month, that plan has changed as two brand new tracks have surfaced and continue to raise the bar for what is to come from the London duo. While Joely has been pushed as the headline act of the single, both sides Joely and How are equally important and enrapturing when it comes to distilling down the essence of Tiny Giant, and thus focus will be placed upon both of them.

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Where Seeing Everything… invoked that initial Goldfrapp comparison, Joely certainly completes it. Starting with what sounds like kick drums submerged under the ocean, a continual bright chord of synth keys raises the beat to the surface, igniting a glorious burst of synth, a near angelic level of vocals and if you listen carefully, a terrifyingly distorted wall of guitar that somehow slots perfectly in place into this seemingly innocent pop presentation. The burst is soon hushed to just the beat, the warm buzz of the keys and vocals, which although gentile and soothing, have a confidence worthy of the grandiose of the music backing it. Honestly, there is a grace to Chloe’s voice that not only exposes her own musical merits, but the merits of the compositions she brings to life. There are still traces of a trance-like state these verses can bring, but is not as potent as either of its predecessors were in doing so. Instead, that seems swapped for an overall feeling of bliss and rapture that the tone of the track brings together. As verses progress, additional cymbals and beats are added to the percussion and the guitar is allowed a full force bellow, highlighting the greater depth of their songwriting arsenal. No doubt, Joely is a beautifully composed, premier standard of pop music, more than worthy of radio rotation and again, brings attention to the incredible talents of Chloe Alper and Mat Collis. But it is perhaps flipside How, that elevates Tiny Giant from a mere airplay curiosity to a full-blown stereo juggernaut.

Ask yourself. Have you ever heard the vocal talents of any female artist front a post-rock style band, or track at a push? This isn’t of course a mutually exclusive event, but Chloe may be the very first I’ve encountered. Wailing guitars supersede the triumphant synth we saw beforehand, shifting the tone to a more melodic, but certifiably more melancholic one. Drums gather pace, the clattering of the snare injecting an urgency into the music the complete opposite to Joely’s sky-gazing demeanour while vocals take a siren’s approach to luring you into listening. The passage of Chloe’s notes held is utterly gorgeous, making that contrast between her and the drums crashing from behind a deeply satisfying experience. An underlay of those same notes sit below the verse as vocals weave their tale, drums refusing to let up which both adds a layer of the fantastical and the ominous in the build up to the chorus. The pay-off in which is something truly spectacular. An effects-loaded tremolo is nothing new in post-rock, but it’s the accompaniment of drums being pounded into the ground and the echoes of a serene female songstress that make the magnitude of this moment far greater than words can paint a picture of. As How progresses further, bass enters in an enormous fashion, giving the track an unexpected groove and swagger you could give a fan club and a jacket to, as well as meddling with the time signature a tad, something previously undisclosed from the duo’s output so far. It all lends itself to the track’s climax; a titanic thrashing of guitar, bass and drums, all with the refrain of ‘How do you do it?’ cried over the volume and density of the final sound attack.

There is a lot that goes on in the three and a half minutes of How to cover completely and absolutely, but to stand side by side with Joely, it makes this marvel of single that more compelling to onlookers. This demonstrates Tiny Giant’s agenda perfectly, granted in two distinct flavours, the ability to transition from a immaculately produced soul-charged pop single with atmospheric undertones, to a behemoth of guitar-fronted brute strength backed by beats that could pulverise your bones into dust. Perhaps the correct summation of their namesake really. I implore you. Keep Tiny Giant under careful watch. Their talent alone is worth its weight in gold, but with twists and turns rapidly emerging from the song library they are crafting, you need not another reason to believe why they are becoming one of the most exciting bands of 2016.

Joely/How is available now at all good respectable music retailers, as word on an upcoming full-length release or EP is still rather hush-hush. For now. All other songs, while not yet available, can be located on the Tiny Giant Soundcloud page for your listening pleasure. They are also tentatively playing live dates at the moment, but go book them so they get greater exposure and all that jazz.

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Track Of The Week: Mask Of Bees – S-P.K.Y.

This may sound an unusual start to a post on a brand new emerging band, but I have a tale to begin with. I hope it’ll make sense eventually. So a few years ago, I attended a barbeque hosted by my best friend, and for some reason or other, I decided to come in a neon yellow t-shirt, the equivalent of wearing a hi-vis jacket in the middle of the bloody day. It glows all on its own, I’ve been told it hurts people’s eyes. But this shirt attracted the attention of a local bumblebee, right before industry pesticides started threatening their existence and what not and it landed on the shirt, presumably thinking I must have been a pretty flower. Instead of shooing it away, I let it sit there, understanding it was probably trying to pollinate my shirt, but it wasn’t doing me any harm. It sat there until it stopped moving, of which I wondered had it died and then did I try to move it off my shirt. Some gentle force eventually removed it. It hadn’t died. The dopey insect had merely fallen asleep and took flight once again. I’ve always had an affinity for the winged stripy balls of fluff since that day. A similar affection I share with a band named after a mask of them.

When it comes to bees in music, they haven’t made much of a name for themselves, or definitely remain an under-appreciated musical force in the grand scheme of things. Perhaps the most famous example is classical masterpiece The Flight of the Bumblebees, the grandiose, expanding brass section now an iconic piece of musical history and natural fit for narrating any overcoming of the odds, or war charge. Some other examples include the Bee Gees, notable Anthrax rarities album Attack Of The Killer B’s, Danish noise outfit Beehoover, Insideinfo’s frankly terrifying but kick-ass neurofunk destroyer Honeybee and timeless Beatles tune Let It… actually that one is cheating. But off the bat, it seems a struggle to name several musical triumphs involving the humble bee. Unless you just guess that there’s a band called The Bees, which you’d be right in thinking as they live on the Isle of Wight. See also Grumble Bee from Yorkshire. This is where a great surge in progressive rock prowess advances forth and Mask of Bees can not only change the state of bees in music, but far more importantly, steer the course of a brand new wave of UK rock bands.

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Their debut album Beta is seven tracks of turbulent, sax-injected hard rock constructs whose paths co-ordinate the chaotic with the transcendental in a manner that’ll quicken the pulse of the rabid Tool and Faith No More hordes. How it must translate to a live environment is a dizzying prospect in the best possible way, for their acute craftsmanship certainly knows how to wring impact out of their music. From the opening time-signature havoc caused by Talisent, onto the battle between calm and calamity of Tendering, shifting to spellbinding, melancholic ambient phases expressed by Peacel Sloot, and concluding with the bruising grooves and vocal centrepiece of Carpet Burn, Beta’s 29-minute duration jostles with so much energy and creativity, you could market it as an alternative fuel source. Touching on the subject of impact, while its presence is inescapable, the saxophone truly elevates Beta as a seminal exhibition of talent, despite its already stellar foundations. While its inclusion is slowly becoming more of a mainstay in modern rock and metal, you certainly feel the passion, intensity and emotion blossoming forth from every ounce of music the saxophone touches, just as the jazz greats intended. But whilst the saxophone jockeys for the limelight on numerous occasions, absolute focus and the true shining moment stands out on personal favourite S-P.K.Y.

The only real moment of tranquillity on this album can be found in the beginning of this track with the saxophone whispering sweet nothings, the gentlest of delay emanating from these softer notes. It strikes a chord somewhere between a jazz ballad and New Age music, a sound of purest beauty. From there, it starts to go a little haywire. Gradually getting louder and more aggressive, the guise of a solo saxophone interlude does lead in drums and melodic picking, adding a tint of ominousness to the mood. Vocals sound as though they emerge from a mist, soaked in reverb and later stronger delay but the croon is an irresistible comfort to an uncertain atmosphere and stands alone as one of the album’s finest points. Pressure does give way and the full force of their brutish yet technically impressive instrumental might explodes onto the scene, along with a full restoration of the vocals for the chorus, animating the most mellow tone on the album. The song carries on with another submersion of the vocals back into the mist, almost acting as gatekeeper for the louder dynamics, the interplay between that uncertain calm and the fiery intensity of the band, before concluding in a surprisingly cathartic breakdown at around the five minute mark.

It needs not to be said much more, but like any collective hive, it can only be as good as its collective workforce, and as Mask of Bees go as a workforce, they are among some of the most proficient and musically exciting workers you’ll hear all year.

 

 

I’d like to extend my thanks to Mask of Bees for granting me such early access to their album, this album was an absolute pleasure to listen to and to write about. Beta is out now on their Bandcamp page in a digital and physical capacity, for a very reasonable price so go get that. They perform live frequently also. It shouldn’t be long until they perform very near you soon.

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