Oh yes, I’ve been to Cumbria. For the uninitiated, it’s the very northern, remote part of England; full, as I remember, of natural beauty, rain and – in Barrow-in-Furness at least – very large and intimidating men. It’s also the home of the strange and brilliant band British Sea Power, whose album The Decline Of British Sea Power is an oft-overlooked classic.
Today’s New Band, The Witch And The Robot, are from the same green, lush part of the world and are championed by, indeed, British Sea Power. This is as suitable recommendation as any, and The Witch And The Robot don’t disappoint. The same air that gave BSP a crazed edge has blessed a second band with a similarly obtuse outlook on life.
The Best Free Show On Earth whistles one flute-loop over and over so many times that an entirely unexpected Orbital-esque feel blossoms out of the song’s lovely, Byrds-y, sun-soaked roots.
That song is shot with vanilla-flavoured normality in comparison to Sex Music (Beef On Wax), which is a song in several, absurd, contemplative parts. It starts here, then peers over there, and then is suddenly distracted by something else. You know how you’ve always longed for a song that combines safari parks, feline disaster, cod-funk and spoken-word pieces? Well, prepare to sleep easily again: you’ve found your perfect song.
Despite the cream-pie attacks at their gigs, The Witch And The Robot aren’t zany-kids-TV-pranks crazy, they’re just wildly inventive; free-association idea-forming as they play their old/new songs carefully and cleverly. They don’t deserve sympathy, or confusion, or apathy – just your full attention.