This here is a guest post by Jordan Smith. Jordan, as you may remember, introduced us to Paul Kalkbrenner and Ella Fitzgerald’s duets in Serbia. She has relocated to the UK and we miss her terribly, but on the plus side, she’s already managed to net herself an incredibly prestigious internship in Ibiza for the whole of the summer festival season, which means she really knows her shit. Today, she steps away from dance bangers and introduces us to a very cool and totally bizarre underground rock band…
Alt-J (∆) completely rocked my world even before I saw them live. After hearing the Tune of Tunes, ‘Fitzpleasure’, I keyed alt j into my mac keyboard to discover not only does it make ∆, but there’s a treasure-trove of superfluous symbols hiding beneath the banal qwerty alphabet, just waiting for a dexterous youth such as yourself to crack the finger-code and dig them up! Typing sessions will never be the same§¶ª˚˚˚∞˚≥åø∫∂!!!!
Apparently most people already knew that, so in order to impress the world at large, it remains for London-based band alt-J (∆) to supplement their hip-mac-users’-in-joke band name with some mind-blowing music. They’ve done it – and I’m telling everyone. As a self-confessed bass-addict I can never get enough of that dirty deep clef. ‘Fitzpleasure’ satisfies my grunt-cravings without over-indulging them, clunking into the low-end more creatively than most thumper tracks. The drop catches you by surprise – as that high and whiny, Jonsi-esque vocal line wobbles along a slightly alienating world music balance beam, then stumbles and face-plants into an effing sweet bassline.
My friends and I bought tickets to their next London gig on the back of this song, a calculated risk of 8 pounds (that’s the cost of Titanic in 3D at my local) which totally paid off. The venue was average – with a school-disco-in-the-community-centre vibe, the sound was rubbish – with poor balance and plenty of feedback, but once alt-J (∆) were playing it only added to the atmosphere. By the end of the gig the crowd was drowning in its own self-congratulation and I knew that at some point we’d all bore our friends to tears with an “I saw those guys before they were big” moment. We’re all so predictable. I found myself next to an angrily buzzing speaker so, since my over-priced professional ear plugs lay safely lost in a festival field on the Isle of Wight, I stuffed my ear with the next best thing in my bag – a stocking sock. With my stocking-plug dangling out my right ear like a used condom, I was free to enjoy a really exciting performance from my new favourite band, but probably not make any new friends.
Like the song, the live show was musically clever, unpredictable and kind of weird. alt-J (∆) is a rock band that really respects vocal harmony and the power of a pause. An a cappella vocal section mid-set, during which a hidden chorus somewhere at the back of the room joined the two harmonising voices on stage, was so effective as to completely silence a packed out room – which erupted into shiver-inducing applause at its conclusion. Fitzpleasure was trundled out last in an annoyingly contrived encore (pet hate #483) and it hit everyone’s spot. So even if you don’t use my new form of aural protection, make sure you get into alt J now. Your head – and your keyboard- will thank you.
alt-J (∆) – ‘Fitzpleasure’