EP REVIEW: Static Caravan – ‘The Marble Faun’

To coin a phrase. And just like that I was won over and became a fan.


Static Caravans describe themselves as ‘emerging from the post-punk miasma’. Despite that there are echoes of post-punk; echoes of the loping bass, post-punk electronic music. Possibly this is the influence of the whole of the 4AD catalogue. There is definitely the sound of computers and sophisticated synths at work, there is the influence of music past, now and possibly future.

As if predicting my very opening remarks to this review ‘Marble Faun’ has the feels of post-punk electronica circa early New Order – check out that bass sound and riff – but in the mix is indie rock, all sorts of sounds that come from bands and genres that came after punk, math-rock all combined into this exceptional tuneful, deeply compelling sound. It is rave-y – the dropout is almost orgasmic – and bloody hell is this something you’ll want to dance to.

‘Previous Engagement’ almost defies description. There is mutant hip-hop, the sound of early electronica, electro-pop. Much as I dislike pulling direct comparisons out of the hat there are hints of The Thompson Twins and Big Audio Dynamite, 80s’ pop as played by King; big sounds abound.

From the opening weird vocal intro to the segue into electro-pop ‘Sparkly Deathtrap’ is undoubtedly strange but bloody glorious and full of musical joy. Yep, there are hints of pure post-punk but let’s not get hung up on that.

As if returning to ‘we’re a 4AD influenced band from Leeds’ ‘I’m A Big Winner’ has an altogether darker feel. Beautiful vocals, sometimes whispered, drift over sombre guitar and keyboards. Washes of menacing sound drift into what sounds like cello For me, and I will band drop here, there are hints of Dream Academy, Cocteau Twins and The Ravishing Beauties. This my beautiful readers is all about mood and atmosphere and it is frankly almost too beautiful to bear, it is achingly so. I wept.

To return to my opening paragraph, the band saying that they are emerging from the post-punk miasma is something of a misstatement because by saying they are influenced by the essence of 4AD they are actually placing themselves deep in the heart of post-punk territory. And by that I mean music that came after punk. A hell of a lot of Goths loved the Cocteau Twins and This Mortal Coil; I know I was one back in the 80s.

And before I forget the writing, the playing, the arrangements are beyond criticism. The vocals = lead and backing, shine. I almost feel guilty especially mentioning a particular vocal but for me the vocal on ‘I’m A Big Winner’ was a particular standout. And despite the presence of computers the actual real instruments are fantastic.

I actually prefer bands that are near to or completely impossible to even crowbar them into a niche or genre. And Static Caravan are that, for that reason I love them. Simply put they make music that is compelling and mesmerising. It can be wonderfully joy filled or achingly darkly beautiful. They make music that is so carefully put together it almost hurts but it doesn’t, and this is the key, lose the mood or the atmosphere. It can make you want to dance in glorious happiness or weep on the floor in a small heap. But at the same time it all makes you want to submerge yourself in the layers of fabulous sound.

This EP, if you haven’t worked it out already, is wonderful, fantastic and other kinds of all things good. This goes beyond recommended listening, it’s compulsory listening.


The info

Emerging from the post-punk miasma, Static Caravan have been flung into the digital age. With computers in hand they work towards creating a post-hyper patchwork of genre. Drum and bass machineries course through ruptured beat velocities, giving way into chaotic glitched out collapse, and then descend gracefully into delicate soundscapes.

The EP portrays a surreal summer with bishops stripping in night clubs, echoes of Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet, and the emotional excess of watching cheerleader films whilst feeling that you’re not in love. The semi-self-titled lead single ‘Marble Faun’ blends melancholic dream pop with glitchy electronica, exploring the history of a decrepit East Hampton mansion that once belonged to Jackie Kennedy’s eccentric extended family, seeking a glimpse of decadence past.

Over the course of 14 months, the EP was recorded in bedrooms, kitchens, and living rooms, and then processed on laptops that buckled under the weight of the 350+ Ableton tracks. The production draws on the essences of 4AD, Sophisti-pop and Techno-kayo, as well as influences like The Go! Team and Hot Chip, synthesising them with the futuristic sounds of Bladee and Otto Benson. Extending songs organically with computer processing; pipe organ is folded in on itself, guitars are warped into clouds of vapour, birds sing over gentle textures, and various computer-crashing resynthesis algorithms are deployed using Max MSP.

Static Caravan are a five-piece band from Leeds, members are:

Tom Carroll – drums, production
Jack O’Connor – guitar, vocals
Tom Owen – guitar
Matt Purbrick – bass, production
Mia Windsor – keys, vocals

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Frank is the website guy for Local Sound Focus. Takes a lot of photos and loves writing about new music.