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# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Pipas - A Cat Escaped

  by Gary Wollen

published: 14 / 11 / 2002

Pipas - A Cat Escaped
Label: Matinee Recordings
Format: CD


"Primitive", but rampantly imaginative "quaint pop", and "triumph of will against what sounds like very limited resources", on debut album by London-based duo, Pipas

Pipas are a duo from London comprising of Mark Powell and Lupe Nunez Fernandez. They released their debut release, ‘Chunnel Autumnal’ on Long Lost Cousin last year. This was followed up earlier this year with a 7” single on Matinee entitled ‘A Short Film About Sleeping’ which is nestling, as I write, in my singles box. I enjoyed the single to such an extent that the thought of an entire album by Pipas was too much to resist. Imagine being stranded on Desert Island alone. All you have with you are a few rudimentary necessities. You have just enough to keep you alive and perhaps stimulate your over active mind. You scratch around and find what you can to make music on, albeit very simple, to the ears of a cultured world, primitive music, but music none the less. What you can’t find, you assemble from the elementary raw materials around you. You mould, construct and improvise with whatever gnarled and rotting matter is available to use. After many hours and countless aborted efforts your persistence eventually pays off, and the frustration of not being able to translate your ideas from the brain to a musical instrument is alleviated. This is the feeling I take from listening to this album. It sounds like a band striving to extricate the rampant fruits of their imagination onto recording equipment inadequate to accommodate,let alone consume them all. 'A Cat Escaped' is an exciting, stirring piece of work that both benefits and suffers from its very existence. It is a triumph of will against what sounds like very limited resources. The songs here are quaint pop songs recorded with great hooks on guitar, elementary keyboards and a programmed drum machine which has a very NOW feel to the songs. It is this detail that both liberates the songs from bedroom balladeering and sometimes jars the songs, constricting the ebb and flow of what are some damn fine pop moments. Sometimes the juxtaposition of sixties pop aesthetic and a dance orientated drum programme allow the listener to enjoy the songs in a contemporary setting. There are occasions, however, when the drum patterns occasionally sound a bit complicated and clever, often at these times drawing the ear away from some towering signatures. There are ten songs on this album that clocks in at around twenty minutes. Herein lies more irony in that the songs would be perfectly suited to being lengthened to accommodate all the lush melodies. This together with a bigger recording budget would have made this one hell of a fine modern pop album. Yes, the sort that would easily grace the charts. The irony of this is that it is exactly the lo-fi approach and the flaws that lie intrinsically at the heart of this that are the attraction to me. Anyone that doubts the power of pop music, that defies the populist aesthetic, should listen to ‘The Witches’ which positively skips along and grabs the ear with its captivating string hook. This song reminds me in some bizarre way of the Go Betweens and points toward the potent pop machine Pipas may become. On the other hand the album closer ‘Run Run Run’ begins with a lift from the magical George McCrea’s ‘Rock Your Baby’ before the celestial refrain of “do da do do” lifts the song far beyond planet pop’s rarefied atmosphere. As I say a triumph. Stirring, inspired, flawed, a joy and ultimately contradictory, but a triumph none the less. There is a current consensus of opinion in various quarters of the media, that the music industry not only force feed us our normal diet of pap and AOR (thinly veiled, I hasten to add, as indie), but also dictate our tastes and what it feels we should consume. It consequently believes that a new tide of DIY music will emerge from the gaping holes in youth popular culture (now bear with me on this one and the relevance will become clear). Surely the music that we buy and listen to should be challenging, difficult at times and yes I agree, populist to a point, but I strongly disagree that the entire industry should brazenly court and champion the very notion of populist music to the wilful neglect of “more challenging” artists and their work. This release on one unintentional level, I assume, challenges the very framework that most bands, to their detriment, operate within. You see this album confronts the very premise that music should be either superficial or make demands on the listener. It is avuncular and listener friendly yet at the same time petulant and at times downright awkward.

Track Listing:-
1 What Nobody Does
2 The Conversation
3 Barbapapa
4 Rock and/or Roll
5 Old Kent Road
6 The Witches
7 Cruel and Unusual
8 A Cat Escaped
9 Emblematic
10 Run Run Run

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digital downloads


Chunnel Autumnal (2005)
Captivating re-release on the Matinee label of early material by much acclaimed London-based indie pop duo, Pipas
Bitter Club (2004)
A Short Film About Sleeping (2002)

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