Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - THE BEAT -

Cig­a­rettes After Sex are a dif­fi­cult propo­si­tion to get your head around. Very lit­tle about them would hint at a global suc­cess story and their quiet, un­der­stated, am­bi­ent slow­core is vir­tu­ally the last genre of mu­sic you would ex­pect to go vi­ral.

But that it did and here we are, on the eve of the Belfast leg of their ex­ten­sive world­wide tour, talk­ing about a band who have racked up scores of mil­lions of in­ter­net lis­tens for a cu­ri­ous brand of mu­sic that is hyp­notic, en­tranc­ing and very beau­ti­ful.

The am­bi­ent pop col­lec­tive was formed al­most ac­ci­den­tally back in 2008 by song­writer and band­leader Greg Gon­za­lez, a softly-spo­ken New Yorker via El Paso, Texas.

While liv­ing in El Paso, Greg was ex­per­i­ment­ing with cap­tur­ing the spa­cious sounds of record­ing songs in a four-story stair­well at the Univer­sity of Texas. These dreamy songs would go on to make up the band’s first EP, EP I, re­leased in 2012.

After re­lo­cat­ing to Brook­lyn, Gon­za­lez con­tin­ued work on the band, en­list­ing the help of a loose cast of col­lab­o­ra­tors in­clud­ing Phillip Tubbs, Randy Miller, Ja­cob Tom­sky, Emily Davis, and Greg Leeah.

Out­put from the col­lec­tive ap­peared mostly in the form of sin­gles, EPS, and im­mensely pop­u­lar Youtube clips and it was when one of these clips, ‘Noth­ing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby’, spread far and wide, did the next chap­ter of the band be­gin.

That song re­sulted in mil­lions of plays (over 64 mil­lion as we stand) and served as a spring board to now, where Greg fronts a lauded band re­spon­si­ble foe one of the year’s most crit­i­cally­ac­claimed al­bums.

Along­side a set­tled line up of key­boardist Phillip Tubbs, bassist Randy Miller and drum­mer Ja­cob Tom­sky, the abil­ity of Gon­za­lez and his band to set a scene and sus­tain a mood reels you in deeply. GROW­ING old dis­grace­fully is more dif­fi­cult than you’d think. OK, so you’re up to your eyes in nap­pies and day­care and com­plain­ing about pre-school ses­sion times and never re­ally get­ting out any­more but you’re still pretty rock and roll, right?

Imag­ine your dis­ap­point­ment, then, when you do make it out to a gig and you find most of the peo­ple there are the same age as you, or much older, not the young, hip whip­per­snap­pers you’d hoped to move among once again.

OK, so Lon­don Gram­mar, though still pretty young them­selves, was never go­ing to be the

Al­most all of Cig­a­rettes After

Sex’s songs fea­ture the same calm but in­tensely in­ti­mate vibe that shuf­fle along slowly in a melan­choly al­most med­i­ta­tive trance.

Speak­ing of their de­but al­bum, Greg ex­plained re­cently in a class in­ter­view with Drowned in Sound, “This is like the novel or fea­ture-length ver­sion of Cig­a­rettes. I wanted it to feel like a com­plete work, where some of the im­agery re­peats – like it’s all in the same world. It’s very much a ful­fil­ment of the feel­ings in the short works.” buzzi­est ticket in town but still...

So with heavy hearts Ul­ti­mate set­tled in for a night of mid­dle class, mid­dle of the road en­ter­tain­ment nes­tled among, well, peers. And then got blown away.

There’s a lot to be said for a great voice and singer Han­nah Reid has just that. She’s ob­vi­ously clas­si­cally trained though soft­ens the edges to suit the kind of fu­ture-folk that Lon­don Gram­mar do so well and only oc­ca­sion­ally lets the war­bling get in the way of the melody. It’s all a bit rem­i­nis­cent of Mas­sive At­tack’s Teardrop and that is al­ways a good thing. Band­mates Dot Ma­jor, a drum­mer and key­board player, and gui­tarist Dan Roth­man share pro­gram­ming and se­quenc­ing du­ties and it’s to their credit that they keep ev­ery­thing taut and re­strained even as big songs such as Strong and Big Pic­ture reach their crescen­dos. And only on Root­ing For You, a largely a Capella num­ber from the new al­bum Truth Is A Beau­ti­ful Thing, did Reid’s vo­cal work­outs seem to be dis­guis­ing a pretty or­di­nary tune – but this was soon for­got­ten amid the wash of heav­ily pro­cessed beats and blind­ing (good) lights from an in­cred­i­ble back drop. ANY­ONE been watch­ing the new Ger­man megapro­duc­tion Baby­lon Ber­lin? If not, why not? It’s a mas­sive­bud­get noir de­tec­tive story set in the Weimar Repub­lic, in those tu­mul­tuous years be­tween the wars when deca­dence was just about fend­ing off the con­flict­ing forces of fas­cism and so­cial­ism that were tak­ing grip in the Ger­man cap­i­tal. Mu­si­cally it’s a sump­tu­ous feast too, sleazy cabaret num­bers and slick Amer­i­can jazz played out in a blur of schnapps and lau­danum... all un­der the mu­si­cal in­flu­ence of Bryan Ferry and com­posers Johnny Klimek and Tom Tyk­wer. What’s not to like? Nichts!

HYP­NOTIC The band per­form on stage AM­BI­ENT TONES Greg Gon­za­lez of Cig­a­rettes After Sex

IM­PRES­SIVE Han­nah Reid

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