LIVE IN MATM
MARCH 2014 IN LAUSANNE, ZURICH & MUNICH
If I had to pick a soundtrack for a trip to the mountains, I would always pick Midlake. Their sadly gorgeous melodies and ornate soundscapes connote a deep connection to the natural landscape. Mountains, woods, winter, snow shoes, rain, ground, shelter, skies, forests and valleys – “inspired by the bavarian forest” (Midlake) – lay the foundation for the stories and songs they create.
Back in October 2013, I saw Midlake’s intimate “Antiphon” showcase in Brussels.
It was a chance encounter. And really, the timing was uncanny. I was driving around Europe tour managing Canadian indie folksters, Folly & The Hunter. En route from Ghent to Brussels we had been listening to Midlake’s “The Trials Of Van Occupanther”. I had still never seen them live, when upon arrival at our Brussels venue someone pointed at a Midlake poster dated for the same day. I mean, what are the odds of a) 2 tours colliding at b) one of Europe’s most beautiful venues, the Botanique c) after you’ve JUST talked about them?
I rarely get shy around bands anymore, but when the tour manager kindly introduced himself, allowing me to set up my production office in the band’s dressing room (due to a poor wifi connection in ours way down the hallway), I admit I had a bit of a hard time focusing on my tour manager duties. I consider them no less then a bunch of musical geniuses and far more interesting than my computer screen. I eventually noticed that 1 person was missing. Tim Smith, the band’s lead singer and lyricist was not around. It turns out he wasn’t just “not around”, but had left the band back in November 2012.
Smith had been in the band since day one in 1999 and by now, more then a decade. When he decided to quit, the band had already been working on their 4th album for 2 years and been recording songs at a farm in Buffalo, Texas.
“Like I am sure any type of business, relationship or band you kind of get a little bit lost in what’s comfortable, what’s usual and what’s known and sometimes you have to shake things up. This wasn’t something we planned or asked for but it was something we coped with, embraced and moved forward with.” said vocalist / guitarist Eric Pulido. “The hardest thing was the time. You feel like you wasted time because there was so much material that was created that would be lost and in that material you also feel like you’re loosing the time that was put into creating that.”
In the fall-out over the spoils of what had been recorded, the remaining members decided to start fresh and proceeded to write and record their new album “Antiphon” in just six months.
An antiphon is a call-and-response style of singing, from Gregorian chants to sea shanties. In the case of Denton, Texas’ favourite sons, it’s the perfect title for a bold response to a new phase in the band’s illustrious career, with a re-jigged line-up and a newly honed sound as rich and symphonic as it is dynamic and kaleidoscopic. “How that is received by people we have no control over – we just have to be honest about what we do and create something we feel moved by. Because of the honest representation I think this record is of us, I feel more at peace with that than ever. Whatever you feel about it I know at least you are getting exactly what we meant to give and for me that’s a great foundation.”
Anyone who knows Midlake’s preceding albums will recognise some essential constituents of Antiphon: the quirky psychedelia of 2004 debut Bamnan and Slivercork; the ‘70s soft-rock strains of breakthrough album The Trials Of Van Occupanther; and the Brit-folk infusion of 2010’s The Courage Of Others. Their fourth album is another fascinating departure, but also a logical progression. The sound is simultaneously familiar and changed. “It’s always through the scope of Midlake,” says Pulido, “but on Antiphon we wanted to embrace the psychedelia, style and nuance you might hear in bands from yesteryear while also being aware of music influences present now. The result was less folk and more rock. Less nostalgic and more progressive. Now the sky’s the limit.”
Since I had never seen the band live before there was nothing to compare them to with and quite frankly, if a band gets me teary-eyed more then once during their show, than that’s all that really matters to me. If you enjoy songs that have the potential to make a grown up weep, go see the band live in MATM:
March 6, 2014 Lausanne – Les Docks
March 7, 2014 Zurich – Komplex
March 9, 2014 Munich – Freiheiz