C/T REVIEW: Velvet Morning, ‘Velvet Moon’

EP / Words

17 Jan 14

Velvet Morning’s take on paranoia is something I’d like to experience. All narrative percussion and beautifying, mellow guitar, this band from Southend-On-sea compose something that would suit the closing credits of a Xavier Dolan movie – this is paranoia of the chillaxed variety – nothing’s in crisis mode here.

And perhaps that’s just it: Velvet Moon is an EP for those with some time to think on their crises. This short EP is an agile thing, carefully cropped together to create wide spheres of sound with lashes of retro-sheen, a sheen which coats the bands’ unique take on the psychedelic. Take the faded glamour of ‘Octo City’, wired yet whispered, or gawp at the fuss ‘Blue Jean Baby’ makes out of simple musical interactions as it weaves its melodious spits in and out of focus. It all makes for a casual listening experience with little to unravel. Instead of complicating the matter, Velvet Morning request the listener’s time – and lead with a level of storytelling only this type of absorbing music can offer.

If it’s like this, Velvet Morning’s debut LP will be a slick fable to get lost in.

I’ve never known how you write songs like these. Listening to Velvet Morning’s ‘You Can’t Download Food’ and teaching myself the smart guitar groove as I go, I spot those flat fifths and dominant sevenths a mile off. They fizz together nicely and I understand why, but as to the song-writing chemistry from which they sprang? To me, it remains thrillingly imperceptible.

Psychedelic music might consider itself a mysterious odyssey into the surreal; but to the uninitiated, it’s rather easy to think of it as a maddeningly lucky by-product of some inebriated sofa-wallowing. That, however, is a fallacy in the case of Velvet Morning, whose chief songwriter Samuel Jones says their breezy aesthetic belies hours of hard jammin’ on stage and studio floors. Take ‘Blue Jean Baby’: punchy beat; hard-wrought.

The Essex foursome may not dramatically break ground, but theirs is a good vintage. ‘Octo City’ is ‘OK Computer’-era Radiohead through-and-through; ‘Paranoia’ churns along sounding like many things and yet, also, nothing. And maybe that’s their trick. In revivifying The Doors, or the Madchester sound, or countless others, Velvet Morning become such a kaleidoscope of overlapping tones and influences that – whoa – they do sound like the future as well as the past, man.

Velvet Morning’s new EP has presented me with a dilemma: psychedelic rock songs aren’t to my musical tastes, but if you don’t like what’s being served, it’s still nice to be invited round for dinner, right? I am going to proceed gingerly.

Imagine you’re at the beach or an outdoor swimming pool, you’ve been there all day and the sun’s starting to dip, you feel slightly woozy from being in the sun and you’ve just opened a cold beer. This exact moment is what Velvet Moon was created for. There are lyrics, but they’re hard to make out, becoming another sonic element rather than something accompanying the music. They wash over you on a shimmering tide of lackadaisical guitars and steady, anchoring drums. One of the few unmistakable lyrics uttered by the Essex boys is ‘paranoia’, sung over and over again on the opening track. If you can’t fathom why feelings of paranoia may be pertinent to this band, then this EP might not be for you.

I said I would proceed gingerly and that last point had no ginger. I apologise. Velvet Moon’s beauty lies in the way it slowly coils itself about you, enveloping the listener completely in the calmest of soundscapes, a touch of down-tempo Radiohead here, a Placebo-esque vocal drone there. It sounds carefully and tenderly crafted, but it makes you sleepy, which seems like a bit of a waste. At the risk of being told to leave the table, I hope Velvet Morning experiment with tempo next time round.

Listen to 'Blue Jean Baby' below and let us know what you think on Twitter

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