Saturday, 6 April 2013

This Is Ethmo - S/T EP

Certainly one of the most unexpected releases of the year and, on inspection, one of the most enjoyable too, clues to the identity of This Is Ethmo are abundant enough: their Soundcloud site tells you they're from St Albans and the EP comes out on the Nub Country label, so all arrows are pointing to a side-project of Mark Lee from The Pocket Gods.

And indeed that's what it is, but it's a side-project that, purely by listening to its content, leaves no trace of its origins discernible to even the most ardent of Pocket Gods devotees, a  group of which I consider myself very much a member.  Completely eschewing the Gods' propensity for finely crafted indie pop, This Is Ethmo instead packs a veritable sonic punch with electronica, beats and, as the name might suggest, samples from all over the place.

I'm not going to play sample detective here, merely to note that a tune like 'The Exorcist' places its purloined refrain against instrumentation that, among other things, throws in snatches of dubstep, a penny whistle (?), some sub-oriental doodles, a brief, deep fuzzy bass and even a folk riff.   That a potential musical mess all holds together so brilliantly is down to the artistry of Mr Lee, who clearly has a skill in putting together a patchwork quilt of sounds with a deftness that has, to close listeners, begun to sneak more and more into his work with The Pocket Gods.

I'm opening my April show on Dandelion Radio with 'Feuertrunken', which pieces together something reminiscent of a human beatbox, something else rather more neatly identifiable as a real beatbox, a sparsely deployed African chant and eerie atmospheric electronics before suddenly breaking in with a chorus from, I think, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

But don't get the impression this is all a guess-the-sound, music by numbers exercise, because it's much, much more than that.  What impresses most about the project is Lee's sheer audacity in putting together so much sonic debris and expecting the resulting sound collage to work.   That it produces results better than we've any right to expect says much about the artistic ear and the absolute love of what he does from a man who's beginning to emerge as remarkable sonic innovator. 

There'll be a session from This Is Ethmo coming up in the summer in my Dandelion show.   Until then, feast your ears on the offerings on Soundcloud and look out for more from a rich mine of sound that, I suspect, will have plenty more to offer in the near and hopefully long-term future.  

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