Live Review: Moulettes @ Band On The Wall, Manchester

Ruth Walbank reviews the Moulettes' stunning performance at one of Manchester's greatest independent venues - Band On The Wall

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Attempting to describe the Moulettes in one genre or style proves difficult. When they released their debut album in 2010, they were a small acoustic group with a quirky folk style; now they emerge fully formed as a band with a unique, self-defined, artistic style.

Led by Hannah Miller (cellist), the Moulettes form an experimental art-pop band, now touring their fourth album, ‘Preternatural’ which was released earlier last year. Based on the patterns of nature and the creatures of the sea, the music combines both electronic and acoustic sounds to give crafted, impressionistic narratives of natural phenomenon. No other band could pull off a song based on the courtship rituals of Japanese pufferfish or a political clique through the medium of brain-eating parasites. Yet, they manage it every time. Their song ‘Behemoth’, about a mysteriously loud underwater creature, uses the band’s melodious dissonance to create a sense of intense noise.

Though the live sound was somewhat similar to that of the album recordings due to the use of prerecorded material, some of the older tracks in particular were revitalised through the new instrumentation of the band. One of my personal favourites from the evening was their performance of ‘Songbird’. When performing, the blend between Hannah and Raevennan’s (guitarist) vocals were astonishing, their chemistry on stage was exceptional. The moment of stunned silence that followed the song, though it was amusingly interrupted by someone dropping a cup on the floor, showed the intense effect of the song on a captive audience.

I admire the Moulettes’ bravery as a band. They are in a grey area of undefined experimentation, and rather than taking the path less travelled, they seem to be carving out their own way. It takes guts to make a stand in the music industry, but they have earned a success of it. Winning Spiral Earth’s Best Band and Album categories and Featea Roots Music’s best band of 2012 demonstrates their talent as musicians, and yet they have come so far since then. The more concept-album orientation that the first two albums have displayed show far more considerable skill in creating a coherent work of art, rather than just a collection of good music.

A mention must be given to the support act, Rioghnach Connolly and Ellis Davie. This more traditional folk duo was the perfect warm-up act with their haunting ballads and cheeky sense of humour. Equally the Moulettes’ guitarist, Raevennan Husbandes, opening solo set indeed exhibited her exceptional talent as an individual artist, and her songwriting ability has undoubtedly developed since the last time I saw her. The venue, Band On The Wall, was also a brilliant and friendly site. This small, quirky venue is a must-visit for anyone in Manchester.

Leading with the life advice from Hannah Miller, “don’t buy anything plastic because it’ll end up in a turtles arse”, the Moulettes are first and foremost a passionate band, advocating their views and playing their narrative-driven music in whatever experimental form they choose.

 

‘Preternatural’ is out now!