So Much That Is Chaotic

The Moulettes, at Islington Assemble Hall, 23/02/16

My question, just before the Mouls began their show, having not seen them for years was, was: who will we be meeting tonight – Apollo or Dionysus? Will we have the immaculate or the perfectly chaotic?

Operating as they are, in greater and greater spheres of the industry, can we hope that these characters have managed to bring some element of the vital spark of abandon and chaos, so personal to them; can they have conveyed it intact, egg-and-spoon style, through the manifold demands of ‘success’ in music, where – many believe – all quality must be replicable, precise and deliberate…

The sci-fi voice-over hails their entrance as if in answer: “Impossible? Unbelievable? I’m telling you it could HAPPEN…” And as a 4/4 thunder fills all space not already occupied by delighted humans, a more immediate question crosses my mind – what manner of creatures are going emerge from those gigantic glowing orbs, and will they breathe fire?

It’s a collection of new tunes in its entirety, presented as a spaceship landing neatly in the park. Hannah told me beforehand, that this set is growing and developing during performances. The decision to cast off all established material is a (characteristically) bold one. Now she stands, flanked by light, holding her cello forth like a talisman and operating a synth as if on a mission from the Lord of Mars.

Can I hear her voice clearly?
Is this a show about hearing someone’s voice clearly?

From the stage Hannah provides us with the definition of the LP title ‘Preternatural’, as “the space between the known and the unknowable”. And so, it seems, the music spans evocations of distress, longing, fury and release – the unknowable – though all the while working in within the framework of hard-rock certainty.

But between these epic invocations, the humanity of the group glows, with friendly and frank introductions, explaining tales of the Medusa, of the Japanese Puffer Fish, and tying them to our behaviour and situation, as people. Through spiders, interconnectivity and communication, for instance. “There is so much that is chaotic”, says Hannah, gleaming in glitter, caked in distortion pedals. It’s in these moments, for me, that their warmth of personality sparks to light the music. As when we pause for Ruth to dedicate a song to the Right Honourable Jeremy Hunt, and remind him (Ruth is not only bassoonist/singer with the Moulettes, but also a junior doctor) that the strikes are not about money, but the safety of patients, and the hall erupts in indignant consensus, and the following tune screams into being.

What is it about the close harmonies that has me so frightened, and why am I enjoying it so deeply?

“Thank all the gods for Spinal Tap” says Hannah. So thank them, and enjoy the truly exceptional Moulettes:

New album ‘Preternatural’ –
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