'Interim' EP by AfterKnightsReview
A mere seventeen days after my previous review of AfterKnights (their single "Breathe Juliet") here I am writing about them again as their intended "..bit of a recording hiatus .." was not terribly long.
As they "..found it too cold to go out busking.." (can't say I'd blame them), they challenged themselves to write three new tracks from scratch over only three days & to record them within that timeframe too.
As you might guess from the fact that I wrote & you're reading this article, they were totally successful: look out for the newly released (literally just now) ‘Interim' EP featuring the tracks "Smoke and Honey", "We Need Three" and "Shapes".
I like the fact that the best original music fits into no comfortable categories: some albums are carefully constructed over a sustained period of time, with others spontaneity & immediacy prevail. From time to time I enjoy music I have to wait in order to tell you about, other times I'm as taken by surprise as everyone else.
Moving away from the Shakespeare orientated theme of the last single (while accurate in reflecting the circumstances of the birth of the band, I'm sure they have no desire to be considered one which is limited to that subject).
What we get is a development into the sort of territory once inhabited by the likes of the Cocteau Twins. Delicate, exquisite probings into psyches, with the emphasis on favouring the quality of what's on the record over more excessive approaches such as volume and multiple instruments.
I deplore how the mainstream media opts to invent inaccurate & ludicrously broad, lazy categorisations. There was certainly plenty of over-production & bombast in the 1980s but there were also explorations of more minimal music: not just the Cocteau Twins but also the likes of Strawberry Switchblade, Everything But The Girl, This Mortal Coil etc: few of which get mentioned as being part of "80s music" whatever that might actually be. None is specifically cited as among AfterKnights' influences as noted in my last review, but I hear echoes and I'm struck by how Auckland seems to be taking a similar road vocally to Emily Birtwistle of Project Overload whom I also wrote about very recently. I do applaud this concentration on nuance, especially as a balance to the regrettable outbreak of vocalists showing off their volumes & acrobatic tricks in club singer styles, which I find impossible to review.
This is mature, thoughtful & subtle music for people who like to be moved in head & heart. That it was created in the way it was is a credit to Shaun & Auckland's capacity for immediacy and innate musicianship and the path to the truths the songs convey is via that gut instinct which in moments of serendipity trump more considered writing approaches. I'm not surprised that they feel "really happy with the results." They set themselves a tough test and sailed through with flying colours.
This is a project which seems to have come together through chance & I think they are feeling their way through it to see where it leads, how well it can articulate who they are and ultimately what other people make of it. I think it's great and I think the more people hear the music, the more will agree. As noted last time though, they are mainly busking and playing pubs at the moment: the last environments these songs ought to be performed in if they are to be appreciated as they deserve. The next big challenge is definitely to start to find places to play them where they'll be listened to.