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Micachu & the Shapes — Good Sad Happy Bad

Micachu & the Shapes — Good Sad Happy Bad (September 11, 2015)

   Micachu & the Shapes — Good Sad Happy Bad (September 11, 2015)
•   Paradoxy každodenního života. Motivace našich rozhodnutí. According to a press release, the album was built on the foundation of an hours–long impromptu jam that drummer Marc Pell secretly recorded. “For me it's the most free we have been,” said Levi.
Birth name: Mica Levi
Born: 1987, Surrey, England, United Kingdom
Location: London, UK
Album release: September 11, 2015
Record Label: Rough Trade
Duration:     32:16
01. Sad      2:07
02. Relaxing      2:35
03. Dreaming      2:34
04. Sea Air      1:56
05. Thinking It      1:37
06. Crushed      2:27
07. Oh Baby      3:27
08. Waiting      1:53
09. Unity      2:28
10. Peach      1:42
11. L.A. Poison      3:39
12. Hazes      2:28
13. Suffering      3:32
Members: Micachu, Raisa Khan, Marc Pell
•   Micachu & The Shapes return, three years after the release of their last record Never, is almost an accident: the trio of friends decided to rehearse in an East London studio, and found themselves immersed into an hours–long jam. Drummer Marc Pell had an Edirol field recorder in hand, and unbeknownst to his bandmates, recorded the whole session; Pell, Mica Levi, and Raisa Khan were so enamored of those off the cuff audio experiments that they became the underpinnings of a new record.
•   With one listen, it s easy to hear why they loved the tracks. Good Sad Happy Bad maintains the experimental–pop sensibility the band has brought to previous efforts, combining the lightness and bounce of their best singles with the sonic textures of field recordings, industrial effects alongside straightforward instrumentation. Levi s affected vocals eschew easily readable emotional tone, instead relying on quixotic lyricism, repetition, and immersion into the song s landscape, to evoke warmly rather than show the sentiments underpinning the songs.
•   Mica Levi often seems like a mad scientist: an oddball who’s happiest tinkering away in her lab and making strange noises with her even stranger machines, using household props like vacuum cleaners and bizarre homemade instruments with her band The Shapes. In 2013, she unveiled her weirdest creation yet. Her BAFTA–nominated, European Film Award–winning score for Jonathan Glazer’s acclaimed film Under The Skin, a creepy sci–fi horror flick starring Scarlett Johansson as an alien seductress, turned her into a rising star in the high–brow realm of orchestral composition. How can even the most bonkers of inventors top that?
•   But Levi, it turns out, didn’t devise a highfalutin plot for a follow–up. She didn’t actually plot anything at all: instead, Shapes drummer Marc Pell secretly recorded a mammoth jam session with Levi and bandmate Raisa Khan, which the three of them then fleshed out into an album. It’s soon clear, too, that recording ‘Good Sad Happy Bad’ on the hoof was the only way to follow Levi’s adventures in film. Like the Shapes’ 2009 debut ‘Jewellery’ and 2012 follow–up ‘Never’, it sounds wonderfully scruffy and scuffed, as if it’s all been haphazardly patched together with gaffer tape. It’s as eclectic as it is eccentric. The wheezy, tail–chasing stomp of ‘Relaxing’ comes on like a lost Fall recording corrupted by computer glitches. ‘Sea Air’ is built on murky synths and the hiccups of ghostly gremlins in the machine. Electronic noises ping around like pinballs on 'Sad’, while the chug of ‘Thinking It’ soundtracks a jogger’s get–fit monologue.
•   Beneath those perverted pop bounces, though, are some sadder, softer moments, and a reminder that Levi doesn’t just need discordant noise to twist your insides. “You are closer to me than my t–shirt” she gasps on ‘Hazes’, high on lust, but on the baleful bleeps of ‘Oh Baby’ she’s been undone by a devious partner who tries to win their bust–ups by punching below the belt. “You want bare knuckles but a clean fight” she sighs, and even it’s as stunning as it is simple — further proof that Micachu And The Shapes’ don’t need a fancy blueprint to bring something special to life. http://www.nme.com/
By Zach Schonfeld | September 8, 2015 | 2:31pm | Score: 6.2
•   Micachu specializes in making music out of bits and pieces of sound that by any conventional standards would be set aside. I guess you’d call this sampling, but these aren’t old soul hooks. They’re micro–scraps of noise — a discarded scream here (“Unity”), a recurring feedback beep here (“LA Poison”) — and when they cohere, the effect is both delightfully improbable and improbably delightful.
•   Micachu is the recording nom de plume of English musician Mica Levi, who by now has some well–established experimental cred. Her debut with The Shapes, 2009’s Jewellery, managed to combine bracing, lo–fi recording techniques, production by electronic wiz Matthew Herbert, and prominent use of the vacuum into a deceptively catchy set of material. More recently, Levi was tapped to compose a fittingly disturbing score for the 2013 film Under the Skin.
•   If Micachu’s latest, Good Sad Happy Bad, feels somewhat less deliberate, that’s because it is. The band was jamming mid–rehearsal when drummer Marc Pell spontaneously hit “Record”; the trio decided to use the resulting tracks as foundations for a new album. The songs are more obtuse, more gnarled than those on Jewellery or 2012’s Never. They’re spare, often demo–like in their skeletal scrapings. Guitars float in and out of tune, with Levi’s vocals a warbled mumble and few of the tracks passing the three–minute mark. “Thinking It” finds the vocalist reciting a spoken–word meditation on a morning jog over a 90–second guitar and organ burst. “Waiting,” the best of the 13, takes minimalism to an extreme, drawing out the scratchy qualities of Levi’s voice over a looping, four–note key pattern that sounds to be spliced from a children’s toy.
•   Elsewhere, Good Sad feels tentative and short on hooks. There are bits of the melodic clarity that has brought Micachu’s avant–pop to life in the past, but snippets like “Sea Air” and “Peach” fumble in search of purpose like the in–studio jams they are. “It’s only suffering / That keeps my conscience clean,” Levi sings on the closing “Suffering,” and that might well be an aesthetic judgment as much as it’s a moral one. Good Sad Happy Bad is a collection of intriguing sketches that might have been developed into a record; instead, they’re left to suffer in demo–like ambiguity. http://www.pastemagazine.com/
BY KATE TRAVERS | 07 SEPTEMBER 2015, 09:30 BST | SCORE: 8,5/10
•   http://www.thelineofbestfit.com/reviews/albums/shape-shifting-micachu-the-shapes-return-to-challenge-what-it-means-to-be-a
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares; Score: ***½
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Micachu-10361552241/timeline/
Website: http://micachu.biz/

Micachu & the Shapes — Good Sad Happy Bad



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