Lights from the Wheelhouse

Sunday, 9 April 2006, 9:52 | Category : Uncategorized
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Supergroups are the thing these days. In recent years we’ve had Zwan and Gorillaz. Last year we had Brakes. This year we’ve got The Raconteurs. Heck, we’ve even got the recent much-misunderstood collaboration between Sufjan, Rosie Thomas and Denison Witmer to look forward to sometime. Maybe.

And here’s another, although a bit more low-key. It isn’t really a group either, more of a duo, a collaboration. John Mark Lapham from the Earlies and his fellow native of Abilene, Texas – singer-songwriter Micah P Hinson – have got together for a project called The Late Cord.

Working together is nothing new for them – Micah’s debut album The Gospel of Progress was produced by The Earlies. And the first time I saw The Earlies they were supported by Hinson, but his backing band consisted of most of The Earlies. It was an amazing gig, and I still stand by this review. However, this is the first time they’ve worked together outside their main projects and they’ve done an EP which will be out later this month on 4AD.

And it’s a nicely minimalist affair, and a curious little thing. It neither goes into the territory of The Earlies’ dubby, spacey psychedelic country, or follows Hinson’s gutsy, soulful folk-rock. However, there are elements fans of both acts will recognise and enjoy, particularly Micah’s gloriously wasted vocals, which make it hard to believe he’s only 24 years old. It’s a slow-burning affair, with the pick of the five tracks being the opener Lila Blue, with its repetitive organ building up a haunting atmosphere into which Hinson’ vocals are slowly released. For a track that clocks in over eight minutes, it never outstays its welcome either. Similarly, My most meaningful relationships are with dead people (great name for a track) is another lovely downbeat track of organ and vocal, with Lapham also adding the glitchy effects.

The haunting theme continues in Chains/ Strings - another nicely mininmalist little number which is pretty much just a cello piece by Earlies’ cellist Semay Wu. The other two tracks are more experimental excursuions with soundscapes and muted Hinson vocal. Interesting, but they don’t seem to go anywhere.

All in, it’s a bit of an oddity, not even having the commercial appeal of either artist’s main work. But it’s clearly a labour of love for Micah and John Mark and it’s bound to have some interest to fans of either or both artists. Like me, then. And, given that they’re meant to be releasing a full album, it hints at promise to come.

Download: The Late Cord – Lila Blue
Download: The Late Cord – My most meaningful relationships are with dead people

Pre-order Lights from the Wheelhouse.

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