Tenniscoats, Muscles of Joy, Tangles live at the Garnethill Multicultural Centre in Glasgow
A mirror ball. Eight Chinese dragon heads up on the wall. People sitting on the floor. This clearly wasn't Kansas but, then again, this was the first multicultural centre that I had ever been inside. Maybe they are all like that? No matter for I had to go where the music took me even if it was off the reservation.
Doing the without further ado thing was opening act Ricky Egan who, as further research uncovered, normally trades as Tangles. Armed with but a guitar and a bundle of pedals, he induced a Stepford Wives level of submission in the audience as he impersonated a CD of background music.
Now lulled into a false sense of mediocrity, I was unprepared for the wonders of Muscles of Joy and their avant garde ways. Nothing as simple as a song for this almost entirely female band as melody, harmony and rhapsody were routinely juggled and reassembled into skewed sonic concoctions that sometimes took experimentation into the realm of intellectual chaos. That said, Muscles of Joy's songs possessed a near hypnotic quality – especially the mostly a cappella "Interchangeable Letterset" – that marked them out as a whole different breed from your usual unadventurous Glasgow band.
Beauty is a simple thing, so they say, and beautiful is as good a way of describing the music of Tenniscoats. Eschewing any form of amplification, Saya and Takashi Ueno simply unplugged and played the most fragile and charming music that I have heard in quite some time. Whether it was a song in their native tongue or, indeed, the wondrously effective cover of "Close To You", this Japanese duo was a powerful reminder that you don't need hype or technological trickery to make great music. Judging by the response of the audience, I wasn't the only one to think that either.
Spiritually uplifted, it was time to retire to the State Bar to enjoy the proverbial "three for the road". Life is good.
June 18, 2011
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