Pure Groove Records, London
31st July, 2008
Having caught our attention last year with their goth and garage graces, Webcuts ventured down to Pure Groove records in East London to catch Ipso Facto launch their latest single “Ears and Eyes”, the follow-up to last year’s highly impressive debut “Harmonise”.
Unfortunately and incorrectly aligned with b-grade deadbeats the Horrors, Ipso Facto are entirely a sound unto themselves. Spindly guitar lines, a funeral organ sound, Rosie Cunningham’s emotive-less vocals backed with a tight rhythm section playing a taut, hypnotic beat. “Ears and Eyes” is exactly this, this time recorded and mixed in a day by Liam Watson at the famed Toe Rag Studios. It’s a curious move for the band to be sticking with the vinyl format, this time in an edition of 300 numbered copies, while being elusive and alluring for the fan and collector, which is something I do admire and would happily purchase, it limits their ability to be heard on a wider scale and I still haven’t a fucking clue what it sounds like on record.
In the last few months it seems as if the band have all fallen into a strict uniform of Louise Brooks bobs and monochrome attire. The identi-kit style, which in its as present unrivalled state makes them stand out from the pack but also detracts from the music, itself a curious mix of 60s garage rock and clockwork psychedelia. Their static and cold stage presence puts up an instant barrier which says little more than “we play, you listen”. Ipso Facto want to be loved and desired yet put forth an dour, dismissive front that becomes unpleasant after a while when they make little effort to create any kind of rapport with the audience. Whilst the band are no doubt waiting impatiently for the world to recognise them, they still have a way to go.
During the launch they noticeably eschewed playing any tracks from their debut release, apparently something they’re now unhappy with, in favour of all new songs. “Ears and Eyes”, whilst not being too dissimilar from “Harmonise”, it does highlight drummer Victoria Smith’s ability to pounce on her kit and bring life to the song. Out of the band she’s seems the most at ease and unconscious about what she does. In light of their current set, Ipso Facto aren’t the type of band that go for the big chorus, instead most tracks are built around Samantha Valentine’s bass or Rosie’s guitar, and build up tension via the keys and drums. Whilst several of their songs seem to be slight variations of one another, there was a glimmer of hope in an as yet unheard new song which carried itself in a pleasant jazzy vibe, Rosie offering a sultry croon for something that could’ve come straight from the forties. It was in those final four minutes that you felt Ipso Facto were beginning to advance beyond their original template into something truly exciting.
Bemusing enough another limited edition 7″ single (“Six and Three Quarters” b/w “Circle of Fifths”) is in the works on the Mute Irregulars label next month, which must make them the darling of the vinyl crowd, but frustrating for us who look at the 7″ single as a petite ornament. Perhaps they’re biding their time waiting for a more permanent label to call home, while enticing us with hit and run singles to meet demand. Either way, we watch and wait.