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:: Daniel Land And The Modern Painters :: Team Ghost :: Anoraak ::
18 May 2011 / The Castle (Oldham St) / Manchester
By David Edwards

Is there some sort of musical or humanistic equation that relates tightly-packed crowds to enjoyment (except to claustrophobics of course…The Castle really should have a disclaimer for their back room solely for them) Music always seems more fun when you’re tessellated tightly into odd, Tetris-like positions squashed up against shoulders, elbows and suchlike. You get the feeling that you’re lucky to be master of your particular patch of territory and as such, it perversely refines your enjoyment. Standing in an empty room, with enough space for a small planetary orbit around you simply isn’t as fun. And therefore, any gig in the backroom of The Castle is guaranteed to provoke exciting. People are lining up down the corridor, whispering various “scuse me” and “comim’ through” phrases. And as for me? I squeeze behind the door. Illogical, you might think (and you’d probably be right. I have a track record of doing odd things at gigs) but it does give me a shelf to put my beer on. And so, the world is ok. Crowds, Crushes, Cramped Corridors…they can go and hoot as long as I have a beer. Yes, I do have that number for the self-help group. It was engaged. I promise…

Tonight’s first main insight was from my friend, who immediately remarked that Nantes based Anoraak’s drummer was “pretty cute”. I have endeavoured to find out what he’s called but to no avail (damm internet; aren’t we supposed to be able to find anything by now?!) so if you’re reading this Mr Drummer, get in touch with Amy. Their sound certainly has an appealing nature too, full of electro-pop flourishes, insistence and goo-goo eyes towards the 1980s. They also have an energy and excitement that so many continental bands seem to convey. There’s a touch of white-socks funk about them, there’s a hint of Blondie and there’s also a bit of Daft Punk thrown in there somewhere for good measure. Their rhythm section (including aforementioned drummer) is excellent and tightly wound together and there’s a genuinely pleasing groove going around. The only problem is that when they’ve reached their cruising speed, it doesn’t tend to go anywhere particularly exciting, leaving you sat in the fast lane, top down, hair streaming but, in the words of Chuck Berry, “with no particular place to go”. That said, sometimes it’s nice just to enjoy something for what it is rather than what it might potentially be. They make a great noise, but they haven’t quite realised everything that they could be yet. Given time though, this could be fascinating when they finally piece together all of their talents. There is something about them that carries a lot of promise; I just can’t fully place my finger on it.

Daniel Land and The Modern Painters however, never drag. Instead, they soar. They soar effortlessly on clouds of dense atmosphere and static crackle, taking with them a cargo of wide-eyed wonderment. The problem I have with many bands creating atmospheric, dense sound is that once they’ve charged and calibrated their various effects pedals and beefed up the reverb, they stand around looking at each other thinking “YEAH! We sound AMAZING! Erm…what happens next?” What makes DLTMP so gloriously endearing is that they manage to sound stunning while maintaining beautiful, epic songs that never forget that essentially, they are songs and vehicles for emotion and appreciation. You know the old adage about great songs being the ones you can play on an acoustic guitar and they still sound great? That’s what these are. Melded together with such glorious sound, unfurling steadily and slowly around the room, it’s a wonderful experience. They’re actually fascinatingly close to the sort of weird, spectral beauty that Mercury Rev channelled on ‘Deserter’s Songs’ and ‘All Is Dream’ but also with the epic anthemics of Doves finest moments. Watching them is like being stood in front of a massive landscape painting (no pun intended, I swear!) where you appreciate the composite, then try to pick out the individual features that make it so stunning, only to finally accept the joy of the experience rather than succumbing to pedanticism. They have a great ability to flip their tempos with ease and remain aurally essential. It is progressive without being self-indulgent; It is shoegazing without ever letting go of melody’s hand. It’s a blissful, ever-breaking wave heavy with sorrow and tumultuous joy. It’s absolutely bloody marvellous.

Team Ghost are a bit of an musical Filo pastry, each layer and level being both delicious and easily split apart, revealing more sustenance hidden underneath. Jean-Phillipe Tagala and Nicolas Fromageau have a true and tangible skill for turning ambience into something that you actually want and wish to engage with, rather than something to merely appreciate in the background. It has perfunctory nods to Krautrock in the cyclical grooves and loops but the wash of watercolour sound over your senses is charming and disarmingly beautiful: the meeting of the two has a genuine kinetic charm. The most impressive thing is how they manage to transport this potentially fragile balance into the live arena and retain its appeal and translucent nature. The sound might be a little bass-heavy, the crowd dampen the acoustics but the principle and poise of the music remains standing. There’s also a tremendous range of music here, from huge rushes of sun-kissed synth to dense, introspection and rhythmic clatter. And the experience is magnified, elevated, catalysed by having all of these musical firecrackers exploding in such a confined space. It’s like a houseparty where the host has impeccable taste in music and a great soundsystem. Profoundly intelligent, multi-dimensional and unconventional; Team Ghost are a glorious hybrid of contemporary and reflective electronic music; one eye on the past while coolly and casually targeting the future.

Team Ghost
Daniel Land And The Modern Painters

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