Micachu & The Shapes – Never (Rough Trade/Rhythmethod) CD REVIEW

MICA LEVI’S DEBUT studio recording, Jewellery (2009), was a challenging but engaging riot of punky electronic fun, and what came through this young composer’s sound was both her sense of musicality and experimentation: she’s a classically trained graduate of the Guildhall Music & Drama School, and a DJ to boot, and the result was a gloriously energetic piece of mostly electronic genre-transgression.
Alas, three years down the line and Never consists of 14 short pieces that seldom relinquish an overbearing and glaring hash of harsh manipulated samples.
It’s probably really clever, and some might enjoy her post-riot girl punky posture – like a 21st century self-contained version of The Slits or The Raincoats.
Most of the time she mutates her voice, giving it a rippling effect, along with her mad sound effects that appears to be made up of the detritus of this digital age, giving the project a gluggy, stuck flavour similar to early sampler-based 1980s albums by that most insular of art-pop bands, The Residents.
One of the album’s conceits is that it’s gloriously lo-fi, and lo-res, and I can almost sense her laughing at me, sunk into the sweet spot on the couch between my two hi-fi speakers.
On two occasions she relinquishes the artifice, and does it proper. ‘Fall’ is refreshingly just simple guitar chords and vocals and an actual mood is struck up as a consequence. Similarly, ‘Nothing’ almost sounds like its guitars and drums were recorded in a real room, and they’re much more engaging for it.
I like the energy, but there’s far too much going on with too little benefit, sonically or musically. GARY STEEL
Music = 3/5
Sound = 2.5/5

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