Sunday, 2 November 2014

Discovery: Meanwhile - Icarus

No more hiding in anonymity for Tom Andrews' Meanwhile - but it's been a while since the face behind Meanwhile wasn't revealed to be Tunde Adebimpe, or Merrill Garbus' long lost British cousin. In truth, the excitement and mysticism behind Meanwhile's music impressed music lovers for the core values of finding a track they like, and sharing said track, because Meanwhile's first release "Luvletta" only came with the description of 'solo artist living just off the M3'. It hasn't exactly catapulted Andrews to infamy (yet), but as any past or present Fiction Records artist will tell you, you're not there to sit around for a few years releasing newly mixed versions of early demos. Andrews has now put out three tracks, the aforementioned "Luvletta", "Bigger City", and "All for the Taking", the latter showing signs of Meanwhile previously unheard, but not explored below (that's just a nod to check out "All for the Taking".)

"Icarus" is the latest release from Meanwhile, I have to say that after questioning Andrews' creativity and originality in my "Bigger City" review back in June, "Icarus" is just simply brilliant. It opens with a chopped up guitar arpeggio in the form of Battles' "Ice Cream" and the beyond from Ty Braxton's genius Mirrored. It slowly develops in to a highly intellectual piece of electronic pop which wouldn't sound out of place on a Grand Theft Auto soundtrack.

Lyrically, "Icarus" comes across deeply personal and his revised use of the words I, my, and specifically you, leads me to believe Icarus is Andrews himself, or as seen from his persona outside of his life as Tom Andrews from the M3: "Icarus, I know there’s more fight in you." Take into account this was the first song written by Andrews after his previous music-related project dissolved. Perhaps my interpretation is wrong, it just seems Andrews uses the common saying associated with Icarus - flying too close to the sun - as the answer to his previous projects demise, and in retrospect uses it as a personal warning not to allow the same fate to repeat itself with Meanwhile.

That being said, "Icarus" to me isn't devoted to its lyrical content, and I’m sure those that have listened will agree the true essence of this track comes from the instrumental. As previously mentioned, the opening guitar is the main ingredient carrying "Icarus" through stages of instrumental ingenuity. The vocal transition ('Just a brief refine about the sampler,') splits "Icarus" up from its initial simplicity and perkiness to the musical additions which follow. Note the pitch change at 1.06, a very smart move lowering the tone in a preliminary build-up to the percussion / chorus / then synthesized piece of 80s ambiance. But before you come to know "Icarus" the songs over and you're wondering where it all went. No trickery, no extended silence, it's all about Andrews' ability to spot the necessary adjustments in sound which in turn keeps "Icarus" fresh, and above all a great piece of work all round. Then there's Andrews' vocal which puts ITV's latest talent show to shame. Signing to Fiction Records with very little prior? A fantastic bit of business for both parties and one which will all but confirm Meanwhile's imminent impact on the future of British music. But first things first, Meanwhile has to reach a national level before expanding like my spider plant(s) - cue La Roux's upcoming tour where Meanwhile acts as primary support. Best of luck, but Meanwhile won't need it.
~Eddie Gibson