When scouring the latest releases for something worthy of talking about, an album opener of the primary school rhyme to remember Henry VIII’s wives, is going to catch your attention. Recently signed to Andy Turner’s ATIC Records, The Witch and the Robot are a treasure trove of oddities waiting to assault and bemuse your senses with their first release ‘On Safari.’
Aforementioned opener, ‘Giant’s Graves’, introduces a theme that runs throughout the album of pagan chanting, psychotic percussion and bizarre lyrics. With a name check to philosopher, St. Thomas Aquinas, in the following track, lead singer Andrew Tomlinson screams: “God is mackerel” against an array of fowl (as in bird) noises.
Standout track, and title for that matter, ‘No Flies On Me (Jam Head)’ is an example of the alluring world that the band create, rich in competing layers of sonic beauty. If you were wondering, it’s about wealthy golfers who employ a man to take the bait of flies by covering his bonce in the sticky stuff.
Live performances are known to emulate some kind of terrifying children’s party with helium balloons, cream pies, fighting and bunting all playing a part. In addition to putting out the most unique blend of folk, psychedelia and prose heard this year, the band run a night where each punter is entered into a compulsory meat raffle. They explain: “We sometimes play surrounded by raw meat on stage. It’s referencing our own mortality, the fragility of life, it’s visceral, sexual even, but also it is nicely weird.”
At this stage, you’re probably wondering where a band of such peculiar entities are from… That picturesque, romantic stretch of idyll, the Lake District of course… That same region of the UK that has inspired the poems of Keats, Collingwood and Wordsworth to name but a few. This could perhaps explain the spoken word entry on ‘Sex Music(Beef on Music)’, which does narrate a meeting of the sexes but in a less romantic context than our nineteenth century forefathers. Their eccentric yet catchy sounds have caught the attentions of fellow Cumbrians and Amelia’s Magazine faves, British Sea Power and they were asked to open their festival in north Yorkshire.
If you can’t make your mind up whether they are performance art with access to a recording studio or actually have the intention of being a band at all, De-Nihilism should answer this for you; a sprawling rock track that transports you to the Arizona Desert, but there you’d most probably be wearing a silly outfit and singing a shanty.
This album is humorously fun yet dark and mysterious all delivered with a conviction and musicianship that compels another listen… “Divorced, beheaded, died/Divorced, beheaded, survived.” Just in case you’d forgotten.
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