Since I’ve been writing for Echoes and Dust, one of the most enjoyable aspects has been the discovery of great bands that I just wouldn’t have got round to hearing. Rumour Cubes, a six piece band based in London, are the latest addition to the list and their second album Appearances of Collections is a wondrous soundscape of melodies and textures.
The stunning interplay of violin and viola from Hannah Morgan and Terry Murphy are very much to the fore so that you almost forget you’re listening to an instrumental band, such is the strength of their melodies. So let’s just get into those tunes and dispense with the background detail, you’re going to want to know more about this band, you’ll be clicking the links above afterwards.
Ushered in on a cloud of mournful yet uplifting strings, ‘Seven Year Glitch’ soon becomes a glorious hybrid of Explosions in the Sky and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, which is a very good thing to these ears. There’s melodies in abundance and an excellent dynamic intuition in the structure of the track to keep you interested, the sign of capable songwriters and musicians with great ability. What a confident and assured opener.
The violin/viola combo easily acts as a surrogate vocalist, noticeably to the forefront on ‘Hiyat’. A low key intro of strings and electronica is kicked into the ether with an upbeat bassline and pounding beat. There’s an urgency to the bassline that I’m thinking doesn’t fit properly until the drums become more agitated and the Arabian sounding instrumentation joins the throng. This could easily have appeared on the last Esmerine album. When the band hit full stride near the track’s conclusion, it’s the sound of very talented musicians having a blast.
The slower pace, beautiful melody and instrumentation of ‘There is a Crack in Everything’ reminds me of those winding mountainous road scenes that often featured in 60s movies. Certainly the opening trilogy of tunes explore three different styles, all done with an elegance and ease of a band beyond their years.
Where to next then? ‘A Homecoming’ has the unexpected accompaniment of a piano as the main driver. The track’s slow start is interrupted by an up-tempo marching beat and a swell of sounds before cycling back round to the piano motif again. There’s nothing overly complex about what Rumour Cubes do, but there’s certainly enough talent about them that they could do complicated if required. The band seem content to let the melodies do the work and not get dragged into any “look what we can do” showmanship that hinders so many instrumental acts.
Album highlight is ‘Do Not Go Gently’ which ventures into a fuller sound from the off, the whole band ramping up the volume with an insistent wave of sound. When the distortion kicks in, our normally restrained drummer Omar Rahwangi is allowed to produce Thor hammer sized drops which he does with exuberent joy. If GY!BE did happy it would probably sound like this. The track ends on a lovely coda of sweet violins/violas.
Possibly the most straightforward track on the album is ‘Strange Lines and Distances’, an uplifting and up-tempo tune built around some Cocteau Twins style guitars. The string playing becomes (even more) exceptional as the melodies weave a beautiful sonic tapestry.
This is followed up with the tragic ‘Your House isn’t Haunted, You’re Lonely’, the first 3 minutes a layered section of haunting violins before an explosion of Lightning Bolt snare hammering. A new genre is explored, I call it Folk Dub, which sounds better through the speakers than it does on paper. The track’s title is wonderfully conveyed with the final sighing violins, the realisation of isolation taking hold. Final track ‘That’s How the Light Gets In’ is one final melancholic lament that allows everyone to be busy from the outset. It’s a tragedy being played out with consummate joy and this is really where Rumour Cubes strength lies. They clearly enjoy what they do, even though at times, the music is heartbreakingly sad.
I tried hard to navigate myself away from comparing Rumour Cubes to other instrumental acts. Obviously I succumbed to the temptation, but I only did so to compliment this band on a very fine achievement. Though it ought to be stressed, they really do have their own sound, and it’s a wondrous sound.
When the end of year thought process revolves around and we try to list the year’s finest collections, Appearances of Collections will unquestionably be making an appearance.