Andrew Hargreaves (iz bendova The Boats, Tape Loop Orchestra, Beppu) i Beth Roberts.
Pop-pjesme užarenim kliještima dovučene u klaonicu.
Oops, he did it again.
The Misty’s kind of pop gazes blankly through the dirty windows of dark-wave; raven-black and gritty in origin, the music is lost as to its original pop-protected sentimentality. The blackened grime is stained by the smog of distortion, rubbing its pollution against the pane. It’s as if the sweet tooth of the song has dissolved and faded away, surrendering its hope to the brutal noise, which itself is suffering from a notorious type of erosion; the kind that nestles three or four thorny claws deep inside the wounds of life and destroys hope from the inside. Litres of Coca Cola are poured down the throat, turning the classic I-IV-V chord progression into something toxic and highly acidic. You can’t deny that it tastes good, though!
Meet The Mistys, comprised of Andrew Hargreaves (The Boats, Tape Loop Orchestra) and vocalist Beth Roberts. You can compare their sound to Leyland Kirby’s V/Vm project, the noisy, experimental – and just plain disturbing – frequency that took pop songs to the slaughterhouse. It was a cool dimension where the lady in red morphed into the woman in black. The muddy, demonic vocal came from somewhere outside the reaches of sanity and still made pop stars such as Robbie Williams sound a whole lot better than the original – turns out, he was lovin’ demons instead of angels.
Pop-styled music gets a bad rep. There are genuine songwriters out there, along with tasty, fresh chord progressions that don’t feel out of date, despite their popularity. As with everything, you have to look hard; you have to voyage deep beneath the pile of trash, towards the only entrance – the underground.
Shiny beats rebound off the luminescent melodies like halogen lights in a tag-stained tunnel. Through the dull glow, the rhythm pounds without mercy. The sick, high-frequency static could have come from a backwards MTV show, broadcast at three in the morning. The dark punk / kraut-rock / industrial / experimental / mutant electronic pop makes for a beautifully black ride. The concoction is as intoxicating as it is weird; cold rhythmic slabs kiss trippy, synth-deep melodies that squirm over every-day lyrics, something that the musician Dirty Beaches is famed for doing. It’s the innocent vocal candyfloss battling the rush of the midnight beat; Rainbow Dash versus the Death Star.
The vocals are magenta kisses that shoot out of a midnight-black beat; if they are to be believed, they are completely innocent (‘Innocence’ is the first track). Redemption Forest pushes our understanding to the brink, curving our perceptions into new, untested angles that are close to breaking point; what we already know of the electronic spectrum washes away like a can of Coke oozing down the gutter. The cool ‘Moy’ cruises down the neon-washed streets, glinting bright headlights against hooded figures, the radio band stuck in psychedelic war-paint.
‘A Bird’s Name’ leaves strips of dark, beautiful harmony splattered over the concrete. Sewer-born, the crimson synths ooze red rivers of harmony that crawl around the districts and end up downtown. An almost retro-chrome tone permeates the music, perhaps finding a way into the sound via Hargreaves’ love of film noir. The stuttering, heavy beats could’ve been the long-lost descendant of Berlin’s ‘Take My Breath Away’, minus the fighter jets and the cool sunglasses, or Ultravox’s lament on ‘Vienna’ (‘this means nothing to me’).
The red band of light shines in the dark as if it were Raphael’s bandana. It’s definitely a mutant, born out of a chemical spill. And like a teenager, it refuses to do what its pop-parents want; it refuses to conform as it rocks out to its own beat. The coming of the night brings with it a cooler atmosphere. The chill in the air is joined by the late, deep fog of autumn, shrouding the zombie-infested dance-floor. The melodies are purposefully dated in timbre and tonality, but the rhythms spill out omens of the future.
Past the primary chill, you’ll feel the strange warmth that jets out of the synth, coating the music like an outer layer; like an optimistic and open heartbeat that continues to thump, despite being left out in the cold. The open feelings of the heart – both innocent and bitter – are typical in pop, but Beth’s pop-peppered vocals flirt with the subject of passionate love.
This breed of mutant pop twists itself around the vine of the other-worldly; Britney Spears in an alternative dimension, but on a higher plain of sophistication and enlightenment. In this world, loneliness literally does kill. It’s disembodied pop, without a head to call home.
Oh baby, baby. - James Catchpole
Falling somewhere in the darkness between Portishead and Bjork, Redemption Forest, the debut LP from The Mistys, is a tour de force, combining innocent sounding wonder and creeping electronic menace. The result is a strange juxtaposition that’s both inaccessible and welcoming all within the same song.
Hailing from across the pond, The Mistys are a duo comprised of vocalist Beth Roberts, and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Hargreaves of ambient-popsters The Boats, and the jaw dropping experimental project Tape Loop Orchestra. This heavy electronic-leaning sound is a bit of a departure for Hargreaves, but the skittering, oppressive synths and drum beats show that even in a new musical landscape, he is most proficient. Roberts’s vocals can, at times, be off-putting, but I'm fairly confident that was the whole point. The combination of the two elements, simply put, is stunning, and the duo has created a record that demands your full attention.
Straddling the line of club-ready jams (“Strumm,”) claustrophobic terror (“Dental Records,”) and post -Yeezus oppressive electro scuzz (“Moy,”) Redemption Forest is a torrent of emotion, and it’s the kind of dark electronic record that we need right now. While countless other somewhat similar artists are paying homage to the R&B and pop sounds of the 1990s and modernizing them for 2013, The Mistys are making fearless music that could, in fact, make you afraid. By using the early days of trip-hop as a point of departure, the duo is neither modernizing nor deriving from it. -
Recombinant Mutant Pop: An Interview With The MistysThe Mistys is the latest project from Andrew Hargreaves of The Boats, Tape Loop Orchestra, Beppu, etc.
The Mistys consists of Andrew and Beth Roberts. Together, they make pop music.
Back in April, the band released their first seven inch for The Boats’ newly minted Other Ideas label. Consisting of only two songs, the music is poppy, yes; but not just the “pop” of today – this is music steeped in decades worth of influences, all subtly woven together to create something accessible and compelling for the here and now. The main thing to know about the music is that it is fun and it is endlessly re-playable. The first half of this interview is with Andrew and Beth, the second half is with Beth solo.
A big thanks to Andrew and Beth for this!
If someone asked me to describe the music of The Mistys or offer a genre label, I ‘d cheat and simply say that it was “poppy”. Do you see this as being rooted in pop?
Andrew: I can say without any sarcasm that The Mistys are a pop band. Pop is a fascinating genre especially because it’s impossible to define and pin down as one thing. This offers much more freedom than aligning yourself to a specific/strict genre. Also makes more sense when describing what we do to my mother.
Beth: For me elements are definitely pop, the vocals and melodies especially.
As poppy as it is on the surface, underneath there’s a lot of diverse influences from various genres, even various decades, at play here – it’s very textured to the point that sometimes a bass line sounds like it’s from one genre and a keyboard line sounds like it’s from another. Is there a conscious effort to do a lot with as few pieces to the puzzle as possible?
Andrew: We like the term Recombinant Mutant Pop to describe what we do. The concept that culture can be viewed as genetic codes (strong ideas surviving to be re-appropriated). With this in mind, the Mistys tracks are more akin to jigsaw puzzles of our record collections.
Tape Loop Orchestra and The Boats are two very different sounding projects but what linked the two on their respective 2012 releases was that the songs got longer. The Mistys single is made up of short, snappy songs; was this a conscious reaction against that longer form material?
Andrew: I really view all these projects as separate enteritis that have their own specific aesthetics. From the start of the project Beth and I were both clear that we wanted to write songs and to explore more traditional pop structures.
The Mistys very much sound like a band in that songs seem built around a lineup of bass, drums, keyboards. Were you interested in creating a (fictional) “group” sound for the songs or am I making that up?
Beth: We are a band, even though there are only two of us, we do all the things bands do, meetings, rehearsals and recordings.
Andrew: Means we can travel lighter.
With The Boats and Tape Loop Ochestra the songs feel so textured that it’s hard to identify all the parts. With The Mistys, the songs are still textured but there seems to be fewer layers and they all are identifiable. Was that a challenge you put forth for yourself, to keep the layers/parts to a minimum?
Andrew: Surprisingly there are generally fewer parts to a TLO track than a Mistys track! I guess the Mistys are a little more direct as things have a distinct place in the mix, where TLO is supposed to be blurrier and out of focus.
TLO, Beppu, The Boats, The Mistys are all very different, but do you ever come up with a melody or phrase and have to figure out which project it’s best suited too?
Andrew: Very rarely as all projects are quite distinct, and when writing for The Mistys or The Boats I only make up half the team. There have been odd occasions where I have played a piece that is earmarked for a solo project only to have Craig or Beth make a claim on it.
Speaking of the difference between all your projects, are you able to constantly wear multiple hats at once or do you carve out extended periods of time to focus on just one project? Do you ever feel like you’re going to induce a sort of multiple identity disorder in yourself?
Andrew: I am a bit of a workaholic (as is Craig) so I am constantly working on things, either isolated experiments that may spark off another project or focused work towards a release of some kind. The difference with The Mistys and The Boats is that being collaborations you have to set time aside for these to function. With Craig and I busy with other activities we have really intense sessions where we lock ourselves in the studio for a couple of weeks and have a focused writing effort. From these sessions we slowly refine the material in the mixing stage for an album. With the Mistys we would meet once or twice a week for a few months slowly amassing enough material to make up the album.
What’s next for The Mistys and your various other projects?
Beth: Girls, an album, shows, the usual band things.
Andrew: The Mistys are putting the album together, which will be released this year. As for other things, The Boats new album is underway and I have finally put the finishing touches to the Beppu album. Craig and I have formed a new label ‘Other Ideas’ which is keeping us busy at the moment.
How did you guys come together to form The Mistys?
Beth: Andrew and I play in a punk band together and after hearing me sing he asked if I would like to form a pop band too.
The acoustic version of “A Bird’s Name” you posted to Facebook (which is very lovely by the way) is very stripped down. I wondered, is that representative of how the songs are written – where they start with a bedrock of voice and one key instrument and then things build from there? Or is there some other frequent process to the songwriting?
Beth: Thank you! My solo stuff is mainly acoustic and I thought it would be nice to play a few Mistys bits in my sets, so I had to reverse engineer ‘A Birds Name’ (there is also an acoustic version of ‘Moy’). Generally we start with a rough arrangement of the track then I add vocals and this changes the structure of the tracks. Other times the lyrics come from my solo songs and are rearranged into a more pop format.
The vocals on “Drawers” are very repetitive and seem to be an almost rhythmic force in the song. Are you interested in finding those almost non-verbal ways to use voice in your music?
Beth: I like to experiment with my voice (always trying for new sounds) and rhythm plays a big part in what we do. I was having trouble finding words to Drawers as the rhythm is really pronounced, so decided to try and emphasize this. After this everything quickly fell into place.
Andrew mentioned you guys use the term “recombinant” mutant pop to describe your music. One of my personal frustrations with mainstream pop music is that it sometimes has no sense of history in that artists either mask their influences or simply seem to be influenced by the last popular song on the radio. The Mistys seems steeped in history, how much of that is conscious and how much is just the organic process for two people who likely have very diverse record collections?
Beth: My view on pop is probably quite different to Andrew’s, so we are coming from two different angles and trying to find the middle ground.
I think artists always have a challenge finding their audience and as I listened to the 7″ and the Soundcloud page, I kept thinking there were very diverse groups of listeners that I could see being drawn to this music. Do you try and reach them all ASAP or do The Mistys plan to take over the world at their own pace?
Beth: We just concentrate on working hard and hopefully the right ears will find us, all are welcome.
- Brendan Moore for Fluid Radio
Stalking / Drawers
Amazing pop mutations from the glowing mind of Andrew Hargreaves, who's best known for work as The Boats and Tape Loop Orchestra. Sounding something like Leyland Kirby recording for Tri Angle records, The Mistys is a very canny exercise in skewed ambient pop composition, both aware of current trends and steeped in knowledge of classic post-punk, pop and electronica's back alleys. The A-side 'Stalking' is one of those cuts that takes a few listens on both speeds to work out what's going on. Settled at 33rpm it yields a genuinely beguiling fusion of yearning, mottled R&B/Pop vocals and sludgy, amorphous bed of nagging bass hook and clipped-wing synth soars with an acute play-it-again factor. B-side, on 'Drawers' cracked vocals blur between distorted human and vocoder personas against struggling drum machine and melting wall of harmonised synth noise, somehow coming off like Nine Circles and Kraftwerk making their last tune together on a dying power supply in the middle of an armageddon. It's quite special and highly recommended! - boomkat