CAROLINE – Song For Ewe

Photo by Chan Kim

“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today’s guest slightly breaks the rules on this feature, since although it sounds like one person caroline is a band who’ve collectively picked one track, but this is a band worth making an exception for since they are an exceptional band. They were nudged in my direction also by top musician Ben Ayres of Cornershop with his other hat on working at Rough Trade Records, and even though it’s work, he is someone with exceptional taste and sage wisdom. Caroline’s debut single “Dark Blue” could easily take its place in the sequence of genius that is Tortoise’s “Millions Of Us Now Living Will Never Die” (right after “Djed”) and that is no mean feat. It’s been a while since I’ve heard anything by a new band that could considered post (or if you like math) rock that isn’t pretentious or bombastic. And since on Velvet Sheep zine back in the day we used to love a bit of post rock, having interviewed the likes of Tortoise, Labradford, Hovercraft, Bowery Electric (and the funkier Ui), and been a longtime fan of labels like Kranky and bands like Mogwai (of course), it sends a real shiver down my forty plus spine to find such a startlingly poised collective. And with the counterpoint of Dirty Three-esque strings for which Warren Ellis would be proud, this filmic single (“Gaugin” soundtrack anyone?) builds and then hits another level when impressionistic almost choral and definitely pastoral vocals are used as textural counterpoint. Although it is definitely understated – an exercise in beautiful restraint – I’m surefiredly excited. And just as intrigued to find out what song they’ve chosen by committee, so welcome to VS, caroline!

Before that, check out the remarkably stark yet beguiling video set in a drained, disused, deep pool within which you can wallow in some well appointed atmospherics.

Caroline are from London and began as a three-piece suite of multi-disciplined players Jasper Llewellyn (acoustic guitar, cello, drums, vox), Mike O’Malley (electric guitar, vox) and Casper Hughes (also electric guitar, vox) in early 2017 starting with highly improvised material from shared interests of as they style it “midwestern “emo” guitar, Appalachian folk, minimalist classical and various forms of dance music”. They had no name, no rules for a good year and a half, just honing their craft, shaping their sessions into songs until they hit the stage as caroline in 2018 and expanded their line up to include Oliver Hamilton on violin, Magdalena McLean (also violin), Alex McKenzie (clarinet) and Hugh Aynsley (drums & percussion). It’s not just strength in numbers, it’s also subtlety: the whole group moving as one seamless entity, well sprung, well oiled and with full Vorsprung Durch Technik.

Which is why it’s apt they’ve chosen one unanimous tune, so without further ado, here’s caroline’s “song for ewe”…

“Sid & Joan ‘The Nets’
‘Sid & Joan’ don’t play anymore, as far as we know. A couple of us half knew Bonnie (one half of the band) when we lived in Manchester as she used to play in a band with some of our friends (Spengler). Bonnie also runs/used to run a tape label called Maybles Labels.

Our friend Rose showed us ‘Sid & Joan’ last summer and we got obsessed with this album, particularly this song. The whole album, ‘The Colossus’, is all just vocals, drums and what sounds like accordion. Its all at the perfect speed and the melodies are beautiful.’”

THANKS TO CAROLINE AND TO BEN AYRES AT ROUGH TRADE RECORDS

caroline’s debut 12″ “Dark Blue” b/w “BRJ” is out on 24th April.

You can pre-order it here:

and check out the band’s suitably minimalist site including some unsurprisingly rescheduled tour-dates (in Oct) below:

https://www.caroline.band/

 

 

Author: Nick Hutchings

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