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Perch – Umbra


Perch - UmbraPerch is seemingly smudged into shape from the leftovers of Fat Bicth, one of Brighton’s embarrassment of “why didn’t they ever gig further than London?” bands. The Bicth were, perhaps, somewhat closer to Brighton stalwarts (your I’m Being Goods and Sweet Williamses) than Perch, so let’s hope this is the band to thrust Perch/ Bicth mastermind Chris Mitchell slightly further afield than London Road.

Perch’s Bandcamp says “for fans of Television, Polvo“, and that’s a good start. I’ll say that unlike a lot of British bands on that sort of axis, Mitchell’s accent sounds thoroughly British (a good thing). Like Television, there’s a lot of very taut, carefully stitched-together songs here. Unlike Television, there’s a lightness of touch moving between ideas that’s less haughty, more Canterbury scene. There’s (ostensibly) no songs about gnomes or camping stoves, but there’s a distinct sense that getting from A to B isn’t always a case of ensuring that drums, guitars, and bass are a) present all the time or b) needed to play motifs for the whole song.

There’s a lot of poppy touches to this (melodies living mostly in lead guitars, à la Television) but not a great deal of heavily signposted verse/ chorus/ bridge type behaviour. There’s also a sense of confidence — “Sure Swell / Aquatic Ruin” starting off as a delicate, melodic number, ceding to obtuse abstractions (but not quite “noise outro”. And some lovely touches — “Flora, Fauna” has a great bit of “drum goes in the rest” that’s a hub for the song without ever hitting metal affectation.

I don’t want to get into marking the differences between Perch and what you might call Brighton sound (fuck knows that’d be stupid, given I live in Brighton and play mostly in Brighton), but there’s a sense that a lot of this record is avoiding a lot of metallisms — while (longest track on the album) “Red” goes into some riffage, it’s avoiding the effects or heavy drumming that might mark it as metal-ish. Drummer for this record is Jon Wood, who’s fairly well-known in the area for being very hot at hitting the pulse in ways that never seem direct; new drummer Rod Roodt is filling those boots well.

Recording-wise, it’s a nicely recorded piece — guitars are suitably crunchy, vocals are prominent, but back just a bit (so you can make out lyrics, but only just). John Guzek (typically a very fine fiddler) has nice a nice crunchy bass sound that’s weaving in and out, dynamics are present. It’s a short record (around the 30 minute mark) and it’s all the better for it — the temptation to go into long-song meltdown is presumably strong, but Perch have definitely got the lick of leave ’em wanting more. I’ve known of Mitchell’s work for probably the best part of a decade and it’s genuinely gratifying that it’s all come together in such a neat, well thought out, and well-delivered package. Can’t recommend it enough.

-Kev Nickells-

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