I’m Off! / Flying – Unspeakable Vehicle (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

If you are one of those people who like your music neatly boxed and labelled with appropriate names and sonic demarkations, to fit neatly into existing genres or sound like what has gone before, then you should avoid this two-track offering (what we used to call a single, kids) from Unspeakable Vehicle. In fact, stop reading now and go and pick up the latest slice of rock conformity or pop pose which is cluttering up the charts.

If, however, you like the idea of music which is wonderfully odd and outsider, which revels in off-kilter charm, which sounds somewhat familiar in its sonic building blocks but revolutionary in its final design, then this is definitely for you.

I’m Off! Is the sound of someone making music using a Rubik’s Cube approach, you love the pretty patterns and the way it moves about but none of it seems to be quite in the right place, but only slightly wrong and ever-changing, meaning that it both speaks to certain comfort zones and yet is exploratory and forward-thinking. It merges pop with rock, accessibility with excess, unexpected jazz flows with proggy vibes, humour with heart. It wanders through dynamic changes like a mini-opera, reaching for the sky in clashing crescendos one minute, heading into lulling lows the next, never sitting still for long constantly building tightly-wound energy or melting into more soothing release. It’s as odd as it is ace!

Its sonic travelling companion, Flying, (what we used to call a b-side, kids) is a more tempered affair, its gentle oozing of sound sitting somewhere between Brian Eno’s ambient adventures and the lift muzak in a Norwegian department store… I don’t know, I’m just clutching for reference points now but only the best music makes you do that.

The tracks are taken from the bands sophomore album, the gloriously titled “A Compass May Give Me Directions, But The Only Thing I Will Follow Is You,” which tells the love story of Deacon and Melody as they travel around the world. And if these strange and beguiling tracks don’t make you want to check out that record (what we listened to before downloads and streams, kids) then we probably can’t be friends! Sorry.

(Not really.)

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