Saturday, April 11, 2009

Minnaars: Free EPs

Regardless of any legal or moral standards placed upon us, 95% of all music downloads by the public are done by illegal manners. File-sharing has ensured that, in effect, music is free. So when an artist or band take the self-conscious decision to make the fruits of their musical efforts available without charge, I commend them on their pragmatism. Of course, the physical or online digital release of an album or EP will normally generate a little revenue for the artist. On the other hand, releasing the material free of charge will gain extra exposure for the material and easier sleep for those who would have otherwise stolen it. Furthermore, it often opens the gateway towards a greater live audience.
Leicester up-starts Minnaars are one such group of talented musicians who've chosen this route. Although their decision was influenced by wranglings with a record label, they've embraced the digital age with an approach as forward-thinking as their tunes.
To place a genre upon Minnaars would merely serve to pigeon-hole their sound. This EP is a collection of four tracks which dabble in math and indie and pop, yet constantly maintain a rhythm which ensures there's a dancey aspect to each song, a glory to behold live, I'm sure.
Minnaars originally warranted my attention due to the involvement of one of my heros, Tom Woodhead of !Forward ,Russia! vocal fame, as producer. And on listening to the EP, the yelping Leeds man has yet to disappoint me with any of his musical output, at any level.
Essay Essay Essay is a track which gives a graceful nod to American experimental-types, Minus the Bear. Seemingly, Tom's time in the studio with Menus El Oso and Life Processes producer, Matt Bayles, has inspired Woodhead's slick production, with plenty of guitars soaked in delay and reverb and synthesizers used to subtle effect. In fact, it almost sounds like Woodhead is on vocals when Adam first steps up to the microphone, but soon stamps on the track his own, unique voice.
Experimentation is rarely shied from by the band. To Jackals is a track which sets the band apart as an indie guitar group who can match artistic credibility with tuneful purposeness. At one stage in the track, you might get the impression that it will wander off on a tangent of sweeping instrumentals and ethereal vocals, before crunching guitars bring the song back to earth. The fluctuation is maintained with ease throughout the rest of the song.
Busy Hands begins as the EP's danciest track. "I've been falling into bits, been like this since the blitz" goes Adam Pickering's mantra, as he capably oversees the synths in the process. The bouncy bass transmits a highly-contagious feet-jerking syndrome, while guitars loop and intertwine like the threads of a most dynamic pattern.
The EP is fittingly closed by Your Heart My Embassy. Again, progression is at a premium. It begins as the EP's most straightforward pop song, packed with some killer hooks and catchy glitches, but ends as a sprawling piece of daring experimentation which, like most other things in the EP, works to considerable effect.
The term landfill indie has been coined for so many guitar bands who dabble in dance and pop. What sets Minnaars apart is that they have the tunes and the bravery. Comparisons with Foals, due to a fixation with the bottom 12 frets, I suspect, are wide of the mark. The overly-focused sound of the Oxford indie-math band's debut Antidotes pales in contrast this. This EP focuses on innovative music which makes you dance, revere and ponder in equal measures.

Both this EP and a remix EP of all the four tracks, featuring Maybeshewill, G-Dot, Tubelord and Love Ends Disaster are available for free.
Download: Minnaars EP
Download: Minnaars EP Remixes

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