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Cheatahs- Mythologies (Wichita Recordings)

untitled (329)If Auguste Rodin’s “The thinker” statue had an electric guitar strapped to his chest and his foot on a drum pedal, it would act as an accurate visual image to symbolize the intellectual rock music expressed by cross-cultural band Cheatahs – Canadian singer Nathan Hewitt, Californian /Japanese origin Bassist Dean Reid, German drummer Marc Raue and Leicester-born James Wignall. Labelled as ambient punk by the group for their mix of ear-splitting energy and melodic post-rock moments, the London-based quartet have always made music that contrasts the claustrophobic and immediate force of noise rock credentials with philosophical deep-in-thought ponders – from their self-titled debut album and throughout their prolific EPs – making them distinctive in their scene. Cheetahs are influenced greatly by novelists, pioneering scholars and life-analyzing characters – this was already evident in tracks such as ‘Controller’ from Sunne EP, which was accompanied by a video depicting two schoolgirls discussing mortality. Their sophomore album ‘Mythologies’ experiments with their principles of literacy and further contrasts the brash yet melodic soundscapes to the next stage.

The title of the record ‘Mythologies’ encapsulates the theoretical examinations within their lyrics, as it refers to a book of detailed essays about sign associations by French semiotician Roland Barthes. With Dennis Potter and Sigmund Freud also muse figures, there’s a high brow element to their speeches.

‘Murasaki’ isn’t about the colour purple but is a dedication to poet Murasaki Shikibu and the world’s first psychological novel ‘The Tale of Genji’ from the 11th century. Half of the song is sung in Japanese by Bassist Dean Reid with his vocals overlapping regular vocalist Nathan Hewitt- one of many clever and double-layered harmonies  developed on this release. ‘Murasaki’ is a mesmerizing example of Cheatah’s new utilization of synthesizers. The way the high frequency effects wonder underneath the rapid drums and repetitive grunge guitar imagines an extra-terrestrial light glowing behind forest trees.

Its an extension on the improvisation of Krautrock, something that’s also explored on the incredibly original ‘Supra’ – picture Kings of Leon’s ‘Don’t Matter’ inside a penny arcade machine –  and ‘Reverie Bravo’ (a “reverie” is to be lost in one’s thoughts), with Hewitt’s shoegaze-like vocals on the latter being unusually emotional. As he sings the cryptic and neo-mysticism lyric: “You will reach the apple tree, then it’s over.” ‘Signs to Lorelei’ also feature beautifully evocative lines, which along with its colourful video thread together mermaids and astrology in a fantastical collage.

‘Colarado’ shows that Cheatahs haven’t sacrificed their loud distorted sound for the sake of an evolution but instead incorporated it together with their ambient tendencies, as the last minute of the track dissolves into a Vangelis paradise; that could possibly assist a zen-like meditation session. ‘Red Lakes (Sternstunden), ‘Seven Sisters’ (the second act this year to have a song of that title) and ‘Deli Rome’ use the psychedelic technique of backmasking and phasing to hypnotic effects, with the former also featuring German spoken word; drummer Raue gets in on the vocal action to demonstrate their unrigid roles. British-sounding ‘Channel View‘ will open up the band to fans of 1990’s Oasis through Nathan Hewitt’s style of extended phrasing and jangly guitars, the song itself being about blurry recollection and memory.

Cheatahs might be heavily inspired by philosophers of the distant past but they themselves have an admirable ideology: never stop challenging yourself.

[Rating:3]
https://soundcloud.com/cheatahs/10-seven-sisters/s-8PvZB

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