A bomb scare didn’t stop Mauno making an appearance in London’s Islington. I’m glad they braved the cordons.
So I continue my tour of small venues in London. This time it was The Islington Pub, which, as you may have guessed, is another pre-war, red-brick pub with a trendy bar and a small music venue off to one side.
The only problem was getting there, as the police decided to blow up a shopping bag outside the nearest tube station. The gig may have been low key as a result, but the trip was definitely worth making.
London-based Factory Seconds provided a short set of energetic indie tunes that would work well on any late ’80s/early ’90s record label. With their opening number, “We Live on the Crest of a Wave”, I was reminded of some of the classics to appear on 4AD (Breeders/Pixies), Rough Trade (Galaxie 500), Creation (Felt), or Factory Records (Section 25). Hang on, now I get the name.
They bounced through their dreamy indie homage with vim and vigor. Maybe the retro sound was helped by the line up of Gretsch, Rickenbacker, and Vox.
Michael, the band’s Aussie guitarist/singer took great delight in asking Kate (bass/vocals) to announce “Caught in the Layers” – one of their five songs. “It’s out. It’s music. You can buy it”. This was followed by “Inevitably”, which had a spoken-word section that reminded me of Nico at her finest.
I felt like I had been transported back in time. Good to have a heavy dose of ole skool indie again.
Mauno are probably best described as “art-indie”, or maybe just “intriguing-Canadian”.
The four-piece named after bass player Eliza Niemi’s Finnish Grandfather arrived on stage with white wine. None of your rock n’ roll beers for these chaps.
What then followed was a masterclass in carefully constructed indie songs. They twisted and turned, raced across vast vistas of wilderness, and took time to get lost in the forest and have a slow walk on the beach. Mauno are from Halifax in Nova Scotia after all.
Having not seen Mauno before, it was difficult to know when one tune had finished and another started, as much of their repertoire feels like a collection of ideas and vignettes that have been stitched together with cobwebs. While this may sound random, the collection of vulnerable pieces created a mesmerizing effect. It was Gestaltian – the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.
Hence my attempted categorization of them as “art-indie”. Theme and variation. Full of jazz ethos even if improvisation wasn’t present. I’m sure that Thom Yorke is probably a fan. Mauno’s songs could probably be chucked onto the same mixtape as some of the more thoughtful Radiohead tracks. Have a listen to their new track “Helah” and see if you agree.
Highlight for me – probably “Nothing”. (The song’s name, rather than there being no highlight). That riff has been stuck in my head ever since, and I suspect will haunt me for a few weeks yet.
And the banter between songs was equally expansive. Here are some insights into the mind of guitarist/vocalist Nick Everett.
- On playing their first tune, “This is a small song. I hope you like small songs. We will play this and then we will get on to slightly bigger songs.”
- On looking at the audience, “Here we are in a room. It has a different vibration. I sit in a car all day and this feels different. I’m not a sociopath.”
- On announcing their LP, out next week, “Our new record is calling Tuning, as we spend so much time tuning. I feel sweaty right now.”
- On another song, “This song is like waiting for animals to descend upon you and tear your limbs off. Have you had The Deep over here?”
Was that a coincidence? Ben Frost, who did the soundtrack for The Deep, was playing in London the following day. Maybe it was just another cosmic connection.
Mauno’s new LP Tuning is released on 13 October and can be ordered through Bandcamp here.
Thanks to Rock Feed Back for inviting The Revue to cover this gig.
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