Thursday, 25 October 2012

Why Glis Glis Rule Alt-J (and practically everybody else)

I know I wrote about this band briefly in my annual piece about the Green Man Festival, but I've been loving their demo CD more and more and thought it was worthy of more detailed comment, so here we go.  Every year I seem to stumble across a band accidentally at the Green Man and am grateful for ever for doing so.   Last year it was the amazing Moddi, who I discovered after seeking refuge from my disappointment at the performance of Antlers.   This year I fled from Alt-J to the sanctuary of Einstein's Garden where I saw a three-piece tuning up and decided to stay around and see what was going on.   Unlike most of the festival, the schedule at the garden's solar stage can quickly go all to cock so I'd no idea who they were, but about three seconds into their set I'd already fallen for them.

They introduced themselves as three scientists and many of the tunes performed had a science or ecological theme, but boffin-like they were not.   Instead, they produced an effervescent keyboard-driven indie sheen that mixed poppiness with an almost Beefheartian quirkiness submerged neatly beneath the tunes.   The contrast with Alt-J couldn't have been more stark.  Where 'next big thing' delusions of grandeur were already eating their way into their sound like zombies through human flesh, Glis Glis - for it was they - had no such pretentiousness about their music.   So we got a song about whales coming on land and then deciding it was shite and returning to the sea.   The kind of thing that, if you're a band and think about it too much, you might discard as a trite idea but you'd be wrong to do so.  I suspect Alt-J do this all the time now.   Glis Glis, thankfully, didn't discard.

I later discovered that Glis Glis were, and presumably still are, Obaro, Brian and Suzi.   I heard them on stage describe themselves as 'kraut pop', which I thought was a pretty good stab at a label, even for an avowed label-hater like me.  Others have identified 60s Girl-Pop, Paris-era John Cale (don't see that one myself) and, shrewd but dull, new wave.   None of which really captures it for me.  They gave out demo CDs after the show and I grabbed one.  Still listening to it and still loving it.   You can hear 'Eyes' from the CD in my Dandelion Radio show, streaming until the end of October and see what you think.  Maybe you can figure out your own label or, like me, just enjoy hearing a band so fresh and innovative with just guitar, keyboards and drums that reassures you, if you needed it, that all imagination hasn't yet left the indie pop building.
I think the reason why so many bands become uninteresting after their early releases is that they leave this level of simplicity and instinct behind.  Glis Glis still have it.  Treasure it, love it and above all listen to it.

Mark W

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