CUSPING exploratory instrumental trio Mildred Maude, newly signed to that reliable imprimatur Sonic Cathedral and with their second album, the incendiary, (mostly) longform stylings of Sleepover (our thoughts on that here) newly in the racks, decided to come home for their album launch do; and not just to Cornwall, but to the venue where they played their first gig, way back when; so it’s down to Woodlane Social Club on a proper autumnal night, full of bluster and susurration, up where the art school used to be, way off the front in a part of town that looks like an Atkinson Grimshaw painting.
And it’s such a gem of a venue, Woodlane – yep, it is run together, for reasons historical and unspecified; a proper, old-skool social club with a banner proud above the low, corner stage; cheap-as pints; pensioner regulars in attendance, as they are every Saturday evening come hell or high water, for the bingo or the entertainment – and pleased they were too, to see the place so busy. Mind you, one would do well not to be stereotypical; one gent of 72 I fell into conversation with let slip after a while that he’d seen both CAN and Amon Düül in Penzance in ’68, ’69; which, whoah.
Otherwise MM’s constituency is garnered from the cool and the curious and the delightfully freakish of West Cornwall – band names resplendent on chests and jackets include My Bloody Valentine, Nick Cave, The Melvins and Dennis Brown – some idea of the eclectic heads who’ve arrived to bathe in the sound.
First up in support are fellow Falmothians Klen, fresh from a recent support down in town with The Wave Pictures. Two guitarists, cult-cloaked, no bass, and a drummer pummeling from a standing position à la Bobby Gillespie in the Mary Chain; they’re steeped in garage, Pebbles style, with tracks ranging from badass surf-riff freakbeat a la The Electric Prunes and those with a harder, bluesier psych edge, more summer of ’68; they’ve got a certain anarcho-prog-punk thing drip-drip-dripping through, too, as if Gong were serving opium for the people. Wired and sprawling freakbeat, on the up.
But it’s Sleepover we’re gathered in celebration of and MM don’t disappoint. As expected, and as Matt indicated before the album emerged: “We perhaps won’t directly be playing the songs, parts of them will emerge during our live shows, which is quite an organic approach to touring an album like this.” And yeah, I think can hear “Trevena” emerging and ghosting past, ditto “Glen Plays Moses”, the tracks that bookend the album; but you can’t net em, they wriggle free, because Matt and Louie and Lee are quickly off elsewhere, pursuant. This, of course, is all part of the ‘Cosmic Pink Alignment’, the never-ending song, which concept more openly informed their debut album, CPA I-III; and which, we’re told, began at 8pm on November 14th, 2014.
There’s a story I was once told, possibly apocryphal, that Coltrane similarly conceived of music as an eternal sound that you tapped into; and that, certainly when recording his later albums, rather than y’know, stopping at end of a solo passage he’s instead walk out into the corridor, still playing, still hitched to the sounds and following them. Which, you can see a similar concept at work here. They begin slowly, not tentatively, but warming up, finding their way into the groove – tuning in; Lee, with a none-more-rawk Flying V bass, warm and dubby; Louie finding his way around the kit with beaters rather than sticks; Matt with a Jazzmaster or Jaquar, the correct shoegaze/noise guitar, pedal board. ready to make that guitar really work for its crust.
And you know that bit when you’re watching Slowdive or someone and Neil’s guitar is shimmering with overtones and octaves and you begin to suspect that some of the harmonies you’re delighting in may not actually exist out there past your head? Yeah, that, gloriously that; and that bit in a krautrock motorik where the band just eases back on the gears a touch, the song strips back to its underlying mechanics, there’s rhythmic space in which to inhale deep, muster before going again? That, too. And then, that moment when the guitarist and his machine seem to wrestle and move beyond a cordial understanding into a bit of spat and the fucking thing howls and shrieks and the amps overload and judder, wire and wood and electricity in nosedive? Oh yes. Fall with that.
A great night rounds off with a raffle for some band goodies, set and setting combining. We miss out by exactly one on second prize. We won by being there.
Guitar lovers, you can catch them this week; they’re in Glasgow tomorrow, Birkenhead Saturday coming, with bdrmm; in between, a brace of dates in London and Nottingham with Sennen. More details here. Fine double-headers all.