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The Invisible
The Invisible Chris Parkin , March 9th, 2009 07:13

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With the arrival of The Invisible so goes crashing out of the window the long-held notion that finely honed chops remove all the joie de vivre, invention and menace from leftfield pop. It’s the theory that the punks once tricked us into believing when they crushed prog, and which jazzers-go-metal Acoustic Ladyland very nearly proved with their hideously slick last album. Just like their good buddy Micachu, who accompanies her own vibrant pop songs on a vacuum cleaner and yet graduated with a degree in composition from the Guildhall, The Invisible’s heroic ability simply means they go deeper and wider than most bands and still make sense of it all.

Pooling a collection of experience and talent that will give great swathes of fashionably trousered young bands this side of the pond a bit of a chill, The Invisible are a free-range group who’ve long roamed whichever musical hinterland takes their fancy. Guitarist and singer Dave Okumu was the soulful voice behind the similarly-minded but mathsy-rocking Jade Fox, bassist Tom Herbert plays in atmospheric, post-jazz Mercury nominees Polar Bear and Leo Taylor is, among other things, Hot Chip’s drummer. The three are also mainstays in much-admired improv gang F-IRE Collective, so it’s hardly surprising to hear Okumu say, like he did in a recent Time Out interview, that “none of us approach The Invisible with an agenda – it’s more about exploring ourselves and trying to do that with some sort of integrity and authenticity.”

Which isn’t to say The Invisible are making music for themselves and if we like it, well, that’s just a bonus. The trio have already done the inward-looking thing and on this debut they want, in their own steadfast way, to connect with a wider audience as they stir chilly art-rock, lascivious punk-funk, dubby electronica, deep post-house, ecstatic percussion and the occasional rave fx into a properly soulful, bewitching and twitchy brew of dislocated pop. There’s nothing unwieldy, though, and nor does The Invisible burst at the seams like an overly-jammed broom cupboard, in spite of the many tens of references that can be picked out, from Talking Heads to Prince (especially so on their set-to-playlist single, ‘OK’), TV On The Radio (yeah, we know, but it is true) to the massively underrated Spektrum.

Encompassing so much might be hazardous in another band’s hands but The Invisible, skilled as they are, know when less is more and when more means compelling claustrophobia and deep, cavernous soundscapes as the band veer from warm, elevating optimism to total apocalyptic destruction. If only more bands out there knew that the possibilities are this many, and this magnificent.