Collaboration is always a good thing. It is all very well for an individual artist to master one sound or style, but, having done so, the tendency is to then retreat into that comfort zone and leave adventure and challenge behind. And collaboration might be good when working with like-minded souls, but if you can find like-minded souls who have also spent years plowing different sonic furrows, exploring different musical pastures, or looking under a whole different set of rocks for inspiration, ideas, and answers, it can be truly rewarding. Such is the case with The 3 Clubmen.
Andy Partridge, Stu Rowe, and Jen Olive were already part of the loose network that made up the Lighterthief label family tree, but it wasn’t until 2010, when Jen washed up on English shores, that they were able to work together in person. And so The 3 Clubmen was born. And then, in the blink of an eye, the eponymous debut ep was announced just thirteen years later. Still, better late than never.
“Aviatrix” is the single they have sent out to tease the audience and test the water ahead of this, and what a cracker it is too. Like all successful collaborations, it takes something from each player. A dash of XTC’s later pastoral period, a touch of Jen Olive’s math-pop angularity, and something of that gloopy sound that often ebbs and flows through Stu Rowe’s Lighterthief back catalog. And I mean gloopy in the very best of senses.
Flutes flutter, boy-girl harmonies are traded, and drums offer off-beat tattoos over a beguiling and consistent backbeat. And as it heads towards its final destination, things seem to ramp up in intensity; the spaces lessen, the sonic ideas flow, the tones darken, and the textures deepen.
If the job of a lead single is to whet appetites, to build anticipation for the longer playing release to follow, then “Aviatrix” ticks all the right boxes. I dare anyone to listen to it and not feel a palpable pang of anticipation for the EP to follow. And if you don’t feel that excitement beginning to rise somewhere in your soul, perhaps music isn’t for you after all!