Live Review from Underground 112:

Underground 112以本地年青樂隊作主題,找來了3隊風格不一的新晉樂隊演出。當晚先有4人shoesgaze樂隊murmur開場,murmur的風格及形象鮮明,主音及鼓手均為女性,歌曲揉合了My Bloody Valentine式的結他噪聲,女主音如夢似幻的聲線組合成一個光怪迷離的景象。開首的A Boy & A Girl大量使用結他音效堆起音牆,歌曲回到了八、九十年代的另類青春風景。
Ride Into the Sky以循序漸進的噪音結他為主,全曲的速度變化近乎為零,營造了歌曲在有聲音下靜止的效果。歌曲注重聲音變化,主音在vocal方面的旋律線並不明顯, 刻意融入整體配器當中;聲音與聲音的不協調遊走於音準邊緣,打破一般對歌曲重視和聲的印象。Starfish在延續噪聲的基礎上做了有趣的節奏編制,歌曲以快慢快速度組成,變化突然,中段的慢板營造出急煞制後影象慢播的感覺,效果有趣。

– Becky Wong

The night began with Murmur taking the stage who, short of drag or kilts, were probably the most interesting-looking band I’ve seen at the U. Don’t get me wrong, they wore regular-people clothes, but they had a look without having a uniform; they looked like a late 90s art-rock band influenced a little by grunge, all angular and solid-coloured. There were several nice-looking hipster-style people who also looked like them in the audience, so I infer that they were there for Murmur. Just looking at them should’ve made one suspicious that something was up just by looking at them, for indeed there was.
To put it very simply, to the point of overstretching the scope of my point, they sound Sonic Youth-y. The drums are stark-sounding and much in the style of Steve Shelley in Sonic Youth’s slower songs, and even like Chris Frantz sometimes. There isn’t a bass but, most intriguingly, the function of the bass is performed by the two singers. The guitar is the main melodic force of the band, and it employs a beautiful, juicy and rich distorted sound reminiscent of the early Smashing Pumpkins albums (just listen to the rendition of Tristessa on Gish, for instance (the linked one isn’t it, but it gives you an idea)) to take the song where it needs to go. It’s the kind of guitar sound into which you can just immerse your listening brain and soak.
The vocals, on the other hand, tend to sing single notes or only a few, and simply at that, much like a minimal bass which just holds the root note (like in rock ‘n’ roll). I must confess, this fact first confused my ears – when their set started off I thought the vocals were badly mixed and the singers weren’t putting in enough effort. But, I freely admit that the band proved me wrong, in a beautiful way by simply sticking with the style that they’ve found. I also laud (and thank) the lead singer for singing in her natural voice, and not adding any forced huskiness or doing any of those numerous female-singer things that immensely annoy me – she has a perfectly pleasant mid-to-deep voice, and she uses it as such.
There’s a little bit of Fleetwood Mac that comes through in the way their songs are composed; they particularly have much in common with the melodies on Rumours. I also imagine that Jeremy Spencer, if he was inclined to use distortion and fuzz, would sound much like Murmur’s guitarists do. The sombre Ride Into the Sky and the paradoxically cheery palette of Druggie particularly reflect these tendencies. Acid was a more typical shoegaze song, and the singing particularly shone on this song; the simple tunefulness of the vocals contrasted beautifully with the guitars, whose notes were ever so slightly off; this somehow only added to the music instead of detracting from it. There was something of the primitive composition of the Velvet Underground on 13, which worked great mixed with the rest of the song (which sounds like a mix of the Smashing Pumpkins’ Today,SpaceboyandMayonaise).
As a band, they do several things right – they have a recognisable sound, they’ve composed their songs such that they all sound different from each other, and they have something unique about their music. They also have a very consistent set (by now; as I understand it, they weren’t always this good, but that’s only to be expected), but they also have one song that, at least I think, is phenomenal. I was totally blown away by their rendition of Starfish; it reminded me of Mudhoney’s Let it Slide riff, with a bluesy-punky sound, but played with a Sonic Youth-y frenzy. It was a really great way to start the show, and I’m definitely going to be watching out for the band in the future.

— Shashwati Kala

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Performances by murmur: