Album review: Evokateur, ‘Crows’ Wedding’ (2012)

This is a review for the New Reviews, also available here.

It’s right to be a little doubtful about a band who describe themselves thus: “Evokateur exists in a dark world of ashes but rises with a brave and beautiful proposal, like a mechanoid orchid, a flower living in a post apocalyptic era.” Hopes are not held high. Such self-hyperbolic detritus usually deserves the most aggressive of reviewer punishments. Moreover, lofty PR spiel is so often grossly pernicious to the DIY musician. And yet, Crows’ Wedding is an adept piece of work which deftly splices crunchy synths and the softest of vocal melodies.

As a four-track EP, this is perfectly weighted. ‘Same As You’ is perambulating pop, gently, sweetly unraveling, with Sarah Villaraus’s smoothly hewn vocals. The haunting sweep of ‘Misery’, like an odour, is beautifully rendered. Here, Hector Villaraus shrewdly grounds his synth work in a dusty walk. His static fuzzes and clicks underpin the sliding, striding warmth of the vocal melody. And it’s menacing, too. “You are tied to the bed, I can keep you fed,” Villaraus sings.

The undoubted highlight is ‘Wildflowers’. Its vocal hook is majesty, holding hands with potent, poking keys. At its most soulful, it is here the EP most heartily fills its boots. There is a turn towards the darkly melodic. ‘Undone’, the final track, is the epitome of this. Industrial, like an 80s Trent Reznor, the record leaves with a drop, a dipping fade out like the knell of a storm. This is clinical, intelligent and terrific.

Evokateur’s Crows’ Wedding is out now.

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Voltaire, ‘Candide’, (1759)

A biting, snarling, hilarious deconstruction of vain, lofty philosophising and the lunatic extremes of clumsy a priori reasoning. It predates attacks on the Whig theory of history by over a century, but acutely destroys ahistorical fetishisms of the present. Like Bradbury, Voltaire is concerned with the rollicking argument, with discord and the progress of civilisation through disagreement, discussion, resolution and, most profoundly for Voltaire’s times, with the coming of European revolutions – through democracy.

Ray Bradbury, ‘Fahrenheit 451’ (1953)

A fantastic fable on 1950s US political consensus, an attack on our desensitisation, our reliance on TV. And, in these times of cuts to arts and humanities, a wonderful ode to thinking, creativity, reflection – a restatement of the perpetual value of the ‘intellectual’, of inquiry and of ideas. Nietzsche would love this. Robust discourse. The path of uncertainty – but of truth. Out with ‘reason’, in with the beautiful, the aesthetic and the real.

Marcel Proust, ‘In Search of Lost Time, Vol. 1: Swann’s Way’ (1913)

I’d give three out of four limbs to be able to write like him, and, even presuming that the limb saved was my writing arm, and that I had to spend as much time as he did in bed, ignoring for a second that it was due to asthma, an affliction we both share, it would still be highly doubted that I could be anywhere near as adept, majestic or grand with my prose, my memories, my faces.

Alan Bennett, ‘The Uncommon Reader’ (2007)

Seems to suggest that the Queen would abdicate, awaken to moral sensibilities, become a liberal, publicly attack the government, if only she read literature! And quip! The Queen does not quip! She’s a miserable boot, icon of dreary, dull conservatism, shirts-too-tightly-buttoned establishment pomp. Bennett is smug. As if reading literature makes you a more worthy human being; as if it is a modern crisis that none of us read Proust. It is ahistorical nonsense. It is a poor tribute to Proust that so recklessly and dumbly recycles cliches about the Good Old Days.