WHIZZ KID - There's Conjuring To Be Done
Five years ago, I maintained that Whizz Kid’s debut EP was very promising. I missed out on their second EP two years later, which came out on a different label, but for their first longplayer, the duo is back on Bearsuit music. Consisting of Scottish banjo player Yo-Yo Nielsen and Belgian wind surfer J-Kane, the two musicians only meet over the Internet to concoct their songs. Such music often has a more experimental touch, which is of course also true with Whizz Kid, but this time the two weirdoes really worked hard and successfully to come up with focused material that is hard to believe has been recorded over a long distance relationship.
Especially the first half of the album features great material, where the duo mixes their strange toy orchestra instrumentation with coherent song structures. The music always has a playful quality, unsurprising considering the many pianos, music boxes, banjos and assorted toy trumpets that are being deployed, but underneath there is also a sense of foreboding. Even though the songs are mostly mellow in mood, there is often a discreet distortion that adds a sinister quality to the music.
This works perfectly on the opener Clones, whose pretty melody is occasionally hidden under all kinds of noises, and is no less true for the following Summer Bubbles which was already present on the first EP. Starting with a circular piano melody, the song soon evolves into a dramatic electro pop song. I also want to point out the subtle beat programming, which may not be as frantic as what one is used to from more dance oriented electronic acts, but they always manage to do more than just provide a basic rhythm. My personal highlight is the slightly longer Falling Out Of Trees, Falling Down Hills, which once again starts in a weird fashion, with unmelodic low piano notes setting some kind of beat, before the song turns into a fully-fledged post rock anthem of which Tortoise could be proud of. Especially the melodica delivers a goosebumpy atmosphere full of fragile beauty. Burlington is another wonderful indie pop / electro hybrid with distorted vocals that should count as a highlight moment on this surprising work of experimental yet catchy music.
The duo continues in a similar way throughout the record, combining wacky circus music with mellow electro pop, using actually all the elements of children’s music but in a fashion that the lil’ ones might run away screaming, while their connoisseur parents will be delighted at Whizz Kid’s idiosyncratic approach of how to craft original music. At times they sound like the bastard offspring of Pascal Comelade and the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, channelling all the madcap genius of these toy inspired composers into a modern day setting.
If the second half of There’s Conjuring To Be Done had maintained the same level of brilliance as the first one, this would have been a classic. This doesn’t mean that the latter half is weak, it just can’t quite keep up. The way things are, this is a surprisingly great album that no fun loving fan of experimental music should pass by. You would berate yourself of having missed one of the rare experimental bands that still manage to write incredibly good songs.