N0V3L – To Whom It May Concern

N0V3L are a collective of dancing-post-punk-constructionist-type noisemakers. They’re set to drop an eight track EP called Novel, via Flemish Eye Records on February 15th.  Ahead of the EP release, N0V3L have just shared a track, ‘To Whom It May Concern’, and it concerns us. Let’s talk about it for a bit.

Perhaps theres an exercise to be made in drawing a line from N0V3L, and back in time through the names of their likely influences. Shards of iconic punk stab through this track. You can hear elements of London Calling echoing in the chamber. But also, in production there are more surprising elements; a less obvious, more nuanced appreciation for the bands at the edge of a movement.

N0V3L aren’t in the business of denying their heroes, but nor are they fettered, and narrowed down to fit with style, or pedestaled as authoritative. Instead, there’s a real sense that aspects of music history are used to springboard forwards, into the now. The space we land in is rare, unforced. Authentic.

There’s a coiled tension across this track. A pleasingly tight larynx, some super-shiny high-end guitar hooks, and a tight snare that keeps things crips. Shall we use the word ‘funk’ to describe the presence of bass – why not? There’s a political dressing too, which isn’t to suggest a lightness, or a commodification of concern. There are feelings, and depth to process which addresses the landscape without losing scale.

Oftentimes when bands square-up against a political foe, there’s the sense that the results are as significant as a child standing on a shoreline flipping the finger to a passing oil tanker. Nothing changes course. Why would it? There are systems and procedures designed to preserve the process – revolt has its own seat, reserved by those it opposes who expect, and so cater for a certain amount of discord. But wait…

What N0V3L achieve is a subtle form of subversion. More atmospheric than direct, more inferred than explicit; there’s a sense of malcontent that’s measured and executed on their own terms. This stuff is clever, but it’s not exclusive or over-hip, because – well, the urge to dance, and to inspire movement is at the center of this thing.  Y’know how John and Yoko spent a week in bed to protest the war in Vietnam, because all other protests were predictable, futile, and easily subdued by the man… well, there’s something of that atmosphere about the music of N0V3L. It makes sense, but not how you think it makes sense. Put some volume on it.


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