Hey everybody, it’s that time of the month again where a blog suddenly catapults itself out of the conundrum and chaos of a mind not wholly out of adolescence! Today I wanted to write about a new band I’ve heard about, and saw live at Birmingham Book Festival, and who, quite frankly, blew me away.
LiTTLe MACHiNe are a 3 piece group that put the works of great writers to music, and they do it brilliantly. Using the natural cadences and rhythms of the language they build up evocative sound-scapes, catchy choruses, and then develop spine-tingling instrumentals from these words, allowing the music to speak as well as the words.
At Bham Book Festival they did a set which ran forward in time from ‘Sappho’ (c600 BC) all the way up to Carol Anne Duffy’s ‘Mean Time’ (1995). Some of the poems had sections repeated as refrains, but many were performed without alteration: the lead singer has an incredible voice, a voice I think sounds better live, in fact, than on the recordings, and he does full justice to the emotional content of the poems.
For me, in terms of adaptation, sheer power, and effectiveness, the two winners of the evening were Shakespeare’s ‘Fear No More’, and Percy Shelley’s ‘Ozymandias’, both of which left many of the audience members literally shaken. In ‘Fear no More’ they used an interplay of backing vocals echoing the lead singer, granting an eerie sense of spiritual vivification to the motif: ‘Come to dust!’ – the guitar solos were also electrifying, and did not feel like a juxtaposition on the classical poetry, but rather a true embodiment of its intention. LiTTLe MACHiNe’s rendition of ‘Ozymandias’ was similarly stunning, ending with a protracted piano, acoustic and electric guitar instrumental that seemed to rise and fall and ululate just like a dune, capturing the final image of the ‘lone and level sands’ beautifully. The music was grand in its way, but eventually peters out into nothing, a perfect reflection of Ozymandias’s own destiny.
Below is a link to their website, and their Downloads page, which allows you to listen to a lot of their music for free. So if you feel inspired to combine music and poetry, start with this band, as they are truly masters in this area of expertise.
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Peace to all.