Thamesbeat was another one of those movements that never actually happened. Either coined jovially by a band member on a whim mid-interview, or formed over hours of painstaking brainstorming by a journalist in front of their iBook, I don't really think it ever officially took off. This so called scene loosely encompassed a handful of bands from the south-west London region, namely: The Mystery Jets, Jamie T, Dustin's Bar Mitzvah and Larrikin Love. The latter was fronted by a whimsical would-be Victorian poet called Edward Leeson, or Edward Larrikin as he was then known in the press.
Leeson and his group fused elements of gypsy-folk, bluegrass, reggae and punk to produce a sort of hoedown friendly indie that was received with a great deal of adulation by the teenagers of the mid noughties. Unfortunately just after one album, a handful of singles and a couple of years of touring, Larrikin Love decided to call it a day.
Cut to five years later, Mystery Jets are making 80's pop, Dustin's took over Japan and imploded in a glorious blaze and Jamie T...well no one really knows what's going on with that guy. Like. Ever. Leeson let the hype of things like new-rave and dubstep pass him by and resurfaced with something way more gratifying, that something is Sunless 97.
Ed and Alice’s timid boy/girl vocal delivers a stunning antithesis to the dizzying heights laid down by the instrumentation.
Formed over a couple of years through home-studio tinkering sessions, Sunless 97 make spine-tingling euphoric dreampop or chillwave or whatever people like to call it? The outfit is comprised of the aforementioned Edward and his significant other Alice with their friend Matt on bass duties. The band claim the name is partly derived from their favourite year (1997 for those of us who aren’t keeping up) and their favourite Chris Marker film Sans Soleil.
Last year saw them release their debut EP ‘Making Waves’ on indie tastemaker label Abeno which the Independent described as “lo-fi & awkward” but in an endearing way. The result was four beautifully crafted tracks that encapsulate a range of influences past and present from bands like M83, Suicide, Robert Wayatt and SBTRKT. Ed and Alice enlisted the help of lo-fi dance songsmith Kwes on co-production duty and his influence can be heard all throughout the EP. Stunning synth landscapes spill over syncopated Afro-Caribbean rhythms, while Ed and Alice’s timid boy/girl vocal delivers a stunning antithesis to the dizzying heights laid down by the instrumentation.
The foundations have been laid firmly for Leeson and co to go forth and take their synth-pop stylings to the masses. There haven’t been any indications that an album deal is in place, only slight off the record murmurings of another single or EP going out on Moshi Moshi subsidiary singles label, Not Even. However, the fact that their debut EP went out on Abeno could signify a future partnership with the Beggars record label, who knows.
Thamesbeat to Chillwave, before and beyond, music will take on many different shapes and forms in years to come. From countless rehashes to rare groundbreakers that speak to a generation, we will never be able to tell what the future is going to hold. The only thing that is evident is that scenes change but good talent remains.
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