Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Tegid Cartwright: CtF

As an auspicious start to this blog, let me redirect you to another blog where you can hear some really interesting new music: that is, Tegid Cartwright's new CtF E.P.

Tegid is a multi-instrumentalist known to experiment with different genres; he works regularly with hip hop and urban artists in Birmingham, has composed jazz scores for theatre productions at the Warwick Arts Centre, and his fantastic Nomad Projeckt (which I strongly encourage you to check out) blends acoustic soul with Björk-esque vocal experiments. The four tracks of his solo E.P., however, stays pretty much solidly in the folky-acoustic-singer-songwriter genre, but with some intriguing experiments and roughness around the edges.

The E.P. has a neat premise: CtF has the dual meaning of being the 'Capture the Flag' videogame mode and representing the chord sequence C to F. The songs on the E.P. are actually made up of more than these two chords, but the idea of a simple repeated chord sequence is present throughout. CtF is comprised of four tracks, all recorded during a stay in a house in Wales, all using the available instruments in the house (acoustic guitar, shakey egg, and a broken pedal organ providing the bassline); a guest arrives for a weekend bringing a banjo to contribute to one of the tracks. This rough-and-ready approach is reflected in the recording style: mistakes are left in, lines are sung wrong and then immediately corrected, the organ is untunable and you can hear Tegid telling the banjo which chords to play (and having to correct himself). But the results are often both interesting and pleasing: the stilted phrasing on 'Wonder Steady' and the strange sound of autotuned organ on 'First Date', for example, highlight what this loose lo-fi style can achieve.

The broken vocal style used in particular on the final track ('CtF') owes a lot to Daniel Johnston, which is no bad thing, but it is complemented by the gentler, smoother style that dominates 'First Date.' 'First Date', the first track of the E.P., is probably the strongest: the gently played shaker is lovely, while the organ rumbles below a hypnotically repeated guitar riff and pleasantly jazzy vocal line. 'I Was Born (Two Kites)' is less together, a more Johnston-y vocal line over a shimmering guitar part reminiscent of Stornoway's 'On the Rocks' that gradually moves toward an epic vocal harmony. The third track, 'Wonder Steady', is more comfortably folk-pop, with a strong melody and a fuller sound created by the use of organ, banjo, and guitar; its awkward phrasing, however, prevents it from ever feeling clichéd by giving the pleasant sensation that it could fall apart at any minute.

The eponymous final track is a little different in feel; a passionate semi-improvised vocal over the rich sound of the organ, unexpectedly falling into place in its strong chorus. It's a fitting end to an E.P. that plays with a simple, formal approach to songwriting but then throws in a load of surprises.

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