harp

PENDANT – Harp (Saddle Creek)

The dialogue went something like this. “We’ve been asked to review this band, they’re a bit like My Bloody Valentine, I know you like that stuff, would you like to have a go at covering it?” Well of course he had me pitched right, fortunately I still have my hair, but sure enough take the shoe out of the boy and there will still be the gaze to be found somewhere. PENDANT, not to be confused with Pendant, same spelling, although note the uppercase use of typography, is Los Angeles native musician Christopher Adams. Having graduated from noise-rock outfit Never Young, Adams is now producing music with a club feel, although with a definite indie slant. The band’s debut album, Through A Coil, does bear a resemblance to what I imagine might’ve been the offspring of Slowdive and Chapterhouse, rather than My Bloody Valentine per se, but is a bloody good affair all the same. Following the release of the band’s new album Harp, the strange thing is his new incarnation appears to have very little in common with 90s indie. In this case the new work is ever-so current, with traces of trip-hop intertwined with house, rave, electronica and lyrics that will make the heart melt competing for the listeners attention. These compositions are infectious, from what seems to be an artist who hasn’t stood still since his earlier work, although perhaps an evolution can be heard in his 2021 download release ‘Blood Rite’.

Starting this new album is ‘Laid in Orchids’, a tune that feels like an old friend. You’ve lost touch with this friend, yet when you see them again, you greet one another like the years that have passed were nothing more than a moment in time. The number starts with a sampled voice which reminds me of what James Lavelle was doing when he first introduced us to U.N.K.L.E. Barely has this notion passed than the song starts in earnest. “Tell me again, am I stuck in this body ‘till I’m needed… I’ll learn to live, observing pain… now I guess, I’m reminded that I’m not, fearful of death…”, here another weighty sample is introduced, before the bass drops. This is a recurring theme, until another set of sampled voices are heard, and a soft fade. Which announces the song ‘Static Dream’, the first video I was introduced to by this artist and what a music video, the telling of a story that really should be developed. This is the second of 3 music videos the artist has produced at the time of writing, that have been lifted from this album. An urgent electronic synthesizer commences the number, before the lyric is brought in: “Non-stop, ambient star-light, crawling through the window…”, wow, this songwriter was certainly on his game when he wrote this and sets the stage as the gavel hits the desk; alright I’m sold. 

The album is filled with a set-list that in places is full of nervous energy, or perhaps it’s just the beats, as rave-infused numbers rub shoulders with others that suggest a majesty that is far beyond a mere second album. Numbers like ‘Blue Mare’, where Adams opens the track by the use of a well produced synthesizer, as its strong vocal is heard, “Blue Mare I’m down in the field again, spend all day lying against your head. Blue Mare I lost something down here that, I won’t get back.”, and I agree with what has been said of this number, that it possesses a David Lynch quality. Dreamy and surreal, if not just a little bit suggestive. I have to be honest in describing this album as like that itch that can’t be scratched, as it had me returning to the beginning over and over, playing this through again, and again. In fact it reminded me of my introduction to the Deconstruction released album by Way Out West. Where this was categorised as electronica/dance, Harp is most certainly of that ilk, but here deep bass, samples and electronic beats vie with an energy that reminds of Adams work with Never Young, bringing out something where the street competes with the dance floor. Imagine an actor free-running the most glorious vista, on the brightest day and you’ve come close to what this is. No sooner is this brought to a close, when ‘Thorn’ comes into focus, more broken beats and Adams vocal, voiced through a scratchy microphone. This brings images flooding forward of a Soviet era scene, where Harry Palmer meets head on Jason Bourne in what has to be a fight to the death.

Snapshots from within this album’s content, might suggest that you have a handle on the artist’s way of doing things, but as you open another track this idea is shot. Rather than this displaying an unstructured mess though, it all comes together in a very moreish manner. With its broken beats, electronic chimes and glorious female vocal contributions, its the perfect album for warm summer days, or frosty evenings; in this case just wrap yourself in this musical blanket and you won’t have much room to complain. I have tried to play this album to death, but it refuses to deflate. What with music from Never Young and the entire catalogue so far from PENDANT, the chill of an early spring will meet with the warmth of a summer’s day and the ensuing anthem will be covered.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.