Saturday, 2 May 2009

The Howling

I interviewed The Phantom Band last week, for the Guardian (the piece will run... sometime; I also wrote about them in a piece for the New Statesman which will run... sometime). Their debut album, Checkmate Savage, is the one record thus far in 2009 that has sucked me in and refused to spit me out. There is something magnetic and exhilaratingly primitive about it, the same mix of beauty, humour, darkness, primal energy and corrupted folk myths that make a good horror film so compelling. They also make me contemplate the monolithic, unforgiving majesty of nature - hard rock, fathomless depths, quicksand, mountains whipped by wind and rain.

If this all sounds a little grim (it'a not, by the way; it's utterly euphoric music), I'm happy to report that all six of the band are exceptionally pleasant, interesting people - and Andy has a moustache to die for. It was particularly nice to observe the interest they took in each other's thoughts and ideas; it's a rare thing to find in any band, that lack of jaded cynicism and true democracy of spirit. You can hear it in the music, which ranges all over the spectrum but comes flying at you with a really powerful unity of purpose. I love the way this song, Folksong Oblivion, both embraces and destroys accepted notions of traditional Scottish music. Most of all I love the fact that it's just beautiful.


fmf said...

Agree with you all the way, great band, cant wait for the show at Whelans. Looking forward to your pieces. Definitely album of the year so far.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. Rarely been so excited about a new band - and yes, there is something about them that's frightening/funny/beautiful all at the same time.