It’s not often I have to run to catch a musical bandwagon, but for this one I really had to sprint. I’ve been championing CLLCT a LOT in the last few months, but this guy and his music is a single-handed shining example why this little DIY goldmine is already outsinging corporate giants like MySpace and LastFM. It would seem that most people over at CLLCT know, and have known how great a songsmith and soundsmith FailedSitcom is for quite some time. But try googling “Failed Sitcom music” and you’ll be scrolling through page after page of homages to something involving Kelsey Grammar.
Trundling murmurs of quiet approval with occasional claps of genuine mind-blown wonderment have been steadily rolling in since CLLCT resurrected. The acclaim for the two existing EP’s, ‘Of Life’s Declivity’ and ‘Her Blameless Mystery’ may in part be to do with the fact that the guy behind them (Sam Durkin) tries to take in as much new music appearing on the site as he can. I must confess I took the slightly cynical view when I twiddled my thumbs as the bandwagon rolled by with a grin. I instantly bought the philosophy – attempting to fuse folk-pop with experimental hip-hop beats – but time was short and I couldn’t help but wonder if much of the hype was to do with Sam’s presence. I had a couple of minutes and played a song. It sounded great and I grinned back, putting my head down as the trundling passed. It took for Simon Piler to ask me while we were putting together Daydream Generation 8, ‘Obviously you’ve invited FailedSitcom?’
And obviously I hadn’t. I lifted my head, muttered under my breath ‘Ah shit Smally’, and ran. I caught another couple of songs and they were as great as the first one I’d heard months previous. I emailed Sam and thankfully he was as interesting and diggable as the music he’d been making. I downloaded both the records and was totally blown away. Take one song, any song from either EP and I guarantee you’ll think it’s good. Take more than one song and listen to them back to back and I guarantee that it will click in your brain. Take a whole EP and you’ll be hopping into your finest running shoes to catch up with the rest of us.
The philosophy is that of sound collage – seriously cool electronic beats underpinning the sparkling organic sounds of glocks and ukuleles, guitars and mad percussion. Add to this the softest of voices singing shimmering little stanzas about things someone loves and you’ve got yourself a recipe for something that will someday undoubtedly knock Kelsey Grammar off the front page of a Google search for all the right reasons.
I started with ‘Of Life’s Declivity’. Clocking in at a surprisingly short thirteen minutes, these eleven songs are a bright-eyed trip through an autumnal dream, ringing melodies over complex supercool beats, zips and zings of sound, all topped off with the murmur of soft poetics. An obvious comparison would be Animal Collective, a band I am frequently told I should listen to. But having downloaded one record and not been overly impressed, for now at least I’m happy to stick with this little EP. ‘Of Life’s Declivity’ is so together that it feels wrong to single out tracks like ‘To The Bowsprit’, ‘Mushrooms’, ‘Horse Chestnuts’, or ‘Locus Amoenus’ as my favourites. When I first heard this record and obsessively played and replayed it for the next 48 hours, I found myself wondering ‘Where can FailedSitcom possibly go from here?’ The only answer I could come up with was ‘More of the same please’.
Surprisingly and fortunately I was pretty wrong. The much loved ‘Her Blameless Mystery’ is still very much FailedSitcom, but compared to its brief, deliberate, and concisely beautiful counterpart, this 12-track EP is a glorious sonic avalanche of adventurous sound. At the time of hearing it, I didn’t realise that it was a collection of songs recorded over the course of two years, but that just makes it an accidental great record, the shifting of styles being one of its biggest strengths. Whereas ‘Declivity’ is a shooting star that melts in the sky, ‘Mystery’ is a piebald nebula of ideas engulfing your ears. Here, the robotic charm of ‘Data-Byte, Sound-Byte’ sits happily alongside the catchy ‘Matthew’, and the familiar folk-electronica fusion of the lovely ‘You Should Revise’ is not out of place on the same record as the eerily infectious closing ‘Much Like A Gherkin Creepy’. After one listen I was convinced that ‘Of Life’s Declivity’ was THE record to download. After two listens, I started to feel like ‘Her Blameless Mystery’ was more adventurous and perhaps the real accidental masterpiece of the two. From three listens onwards I have reached the only conclusion possible that both records are little classics in their own right and well worth a chance of your precious time.
So there you have it. Kelsey Grammar, if you’re reading this then feel free to quake in your google-boots. My ears are ringing and my heart is singing with the sounds of two cracking EPs as I catch my breath from the sprint. The Quixodelic Commune is one genuine and seriously talented songsmith better off. It is a privilege to have FailedSitcom on board to please take the time to download one, and inevitably both of these records. After all, bandwagons are always more exciting when you get on at the very beginning.