This EP from They Came From The Stars I Saw Them, is their first release on Um Records. It's brimming with a strong desire for originality.
‘The Lovesick Snowman’ opens with sleigh bells, a woodblock and a sinister musicbox. It is a wonderful opening to a track which essentially tantalises the listener, via an emotional rollercoaster, in and out of a happy, sixties, tenor-sax led jive. But the musicbox continues throughout, bringing a threatening overtone to the track. Halfway through the track female voices are heard reciting a German nursery rhyme (imagine the mice from Bagpuss cleaning in German), a tale which mirrors the use of the combination of major and minor keys. The story recounts a snowman who falls in love, whose heart starts beating and melts from his own warmth. The track eventually fades to a distorted mix of percussion, guitar and the sound of dripping water.
The second track ‘Starburst’ again has the elements of a dirge/prog-rock – a repeated male vocal line "good to see you, it’s good to see you" and a repetitive guitar using two notes as a base for the instruments. It’s an upbeat track with a pleasant integration of instruments and distortions and essentially quite easy listening.
The final track on the E.P. ‘Snow In Africa/Smiling Lantern’ has a sincerely evocative opening. A broken violin using tremolo, with the effect of an electronic whirr of air delicately building around the violin. It fades out to a melodic and calming synth, tenor sax and vocals. The use of rhythmically/offbeat broken drums, all following the melody in dirge-like fashion again. Something along the lines of a banjo is brought in which lulls the listener into a sense of security. This happiness promptly ends when the use of the off-key instruments, along with the crashing cymbals start to create a western take on Chinese theatre. The track then explores a furore of electronics and instruments, a world away from the previous bars’ almost country music ease. It is an exceedingly lengthy track/journey of approximately seventeen minutes. A violin sliding, a build of tremor cymbals and the almighty crash of the drums, followed by a cacophony of instruments including sustained synth and sax competing over an off-key melody. It then fades out as it faded in with violin tremolo and the electronic wind. It is a dynamic contrast of alluring fluidity followed by a direct challenge to the ear.
Our generation needs these windows through which to display the places electronics and imagination can take us next. Bands like ‘They Came From The Stars, I Saw Them’ have such a rare emotion, led by curiosity, rather than the familiar ease into which our generation is all too easily letting itself slip. This music should not be picked to pieces, it should be heard as a progression in the greater scheme of things.
Provactive, intelligent, skilled, daring and very intriguing!
8Sophie Hilton's Score