I think I am set to retire – a consecutive review by Robbie, thank you Sir.
Cabwash is the collective name for five English artists local to London and Manchester: Insurance; Electrjc Guitar; Ruth Bate; Modern Blonde and Shelf. Thus far the collective has released two albums, an EP and three singles, and this article will explore all six entries.
Off the Chain is an album from Modern Blonde, featuring striking tongue-in-cheek horror-themed artwork depicting a gun-toting werewolf and his monstrous pals. Opening track Warm Talking features soft synths and a simple electronic beat as the framework, whilst largely indecipherable and highly processed vocals lend the track an experimental air. As the album progresses it becomes clear that these elements are retained throughout, though in Halloween the effects processing used on the guitar tracks and reverb-saturated vocals lend the proceedings an air of shoegaze.
Unlike the majority of the release the vocals can be comprehended on the album’s 11th track, Plague, which resembles something akin to gloomy electronic pop. This is certainly no bad thing, and it provides a welcome rest for ears battered by the more eclectic tracks. Overall this is a fairly downtempo, experimental album that should appeal to those with a taste for something a bit more unusual.
The second release is another from Modern Blonde, this one titled Home Truths. From the off you are gently assaulted with vocals processed beyond all understanding and soft electronic percussion. From octave-shifting and vocoder effects, at times the release seems like one big experiment into the possibilities of sound processing, and while at times it can be a little hard on the ears it’s all fairly pleasant background listening.
Next up is the work of Ruth Bate, which from the get-go features more of those heavily processed elements; massive washes of synths, utterly mangled vocal elements and electronic drums. Every track gels completely with the next, and the collection certainly seems at home with the Cabwash incentive to produce creative and inspiring content. Ruth Bate also released a single titled This’ll Kill Ya, which despite its name is a petite slice of pretty electroacoustic music.
Gazebo, the only release so far from Shelf, begins life with the scratchy and somewhat 8-bit Shelf & Imagine, which sounds somewhat akin to several Nintendo Gameboys riding a wave of white noise and having a grand old time. As the electronic experimentation continues its course, the listener is treated to simple ambient soundscapes which would work well as the soundtrack to a lazy afternoon. The final track, Dolphin Surgery, weighs in at just under the 11 minute mark, and is essentially a huge wall of electronic noise which could very well consume your soul if you’re not careful.
The final ingredient within the collective is Electrjk Guitar, which so far represents a single song, perversely titled Millions of Songs. Sounding at this point much like the Modern Blonde output and fairly unremarkable, it stands as another piece of electronic music in the Cabwash collective.
This material is worthy of exploration beyond the sum of its parts; in time this collaboration could bear unique and exciting fruit which delves deep into the possibilities of electronic music. In order to do this each artist must continue to produce and define themselves, and in so doing learn their craft.
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