"Hunter", the latest track from Farao exemplifies the progressive development of her sound since I first covered her here way back in early 2012.
Developing from pure, disarming atmosphere to rich, expansive instrumentation full of dynamic experimental soundscapes and tinkering electronics that walk the delicate line between eerily dark and icily beauty. Kari's vocal, as ever ethereal and organic beguile in its intensity amongst the repeated warning cries of "track you down and shoot you like a hunter".
Definitely not one to mess with then! Farao's debut album cannot come soon enough.
There are a handful of tracks which I've heard and loved live that have yet / will never receive studio treatment, tracks which you always wish to hear in the comfort of your own home on quality listening equipment (if you are listening to music on tinny laptop speakers - stop!) but have to delve to generally poor quality youtube clups to re-live.
Apartment's "People" has long been my favourite track of such (and my favourite track by a much missed band), Embers' "Hollow Cage" is another such example (a track which faces an almost impossible task of living up to the live version's beauty) and until last week the track I'm blogging about today was another, originally heard when Kari Jahnsen still performed as Like Spinning, "The Hours"...
Now known as Farao "The Hours" has been updated with a gossamer sheen that exemplifies Kari's new project, merging her fingerpicking folk roots and organic voice with expansive instrumentation and tinkering electronics, the track remains as emotive and magnificent as I remember with a chorus that brings goosebumps all over with its pure, disarming beauty.
Farao's debut EP is due Feb 10th with a headline show following at London's The Waiting Room on Feb 25th - tickets.
Farao returns after springs exquisite "Skin" with the similarly beautiful "Tell A Lie", it sees Kari Jahnsen moving past a damaging relationship with on the intimate tale of dishonesty.
Throughout her voice remains graceful and fragile disguising any bitterness amongst darkly atmospheric organ swirls, looping guitar and a metronomic beat. The haunting, otherworldly melody highlights a much progressive sound from Kari's previous project Like Spinning (though I'm still holding hope that "The Hours" makes a recorded return).
"Tell A Lie" is released on November 4th with an EP expected early next year.
Seemingly in the blink of an eye it’s the last day of the festival. After another early morning wake-up, breakfast and numerous cups of coffee I head to The Mesmerist to see a band I've featured a couple of times recently, Keebo.
Their early set time doesn't do many favours and the punters that have managed to dust themselves off early all have a beleaguered look about them. The sound is muddy too which doesn't help but amongst all that there are some wonderful textured guitar sounds and intricate melodies entwining with smooth, blissful vocal harmonies. There's obvious potential here and Keebo are very much a band on the up, I’m looking forward to hearing them again soon.
I rush all the way to The Hope to catch another new band I've recently featured but not seen live (until now), the London based Sisters. The fact they are playing in a real venue makes a huge difference and although I arrive mid-set I’m compelled by the large, loud sound the trio are making, grunge-riffs and ferocious beats combine with dreamy, nonchalant vocals and the audience is entranced – an exciting act is found.
Next I head to Komedia (via a quick trip to Pompoko) to watch an act I’ve followed for a while but had never actually seen live, Mary Epworth. The time-keeper at Komedia is clearly still enjoying the job as Mary has started and my watch still hasn’t hit her apparent stage time. The set gradually builds in power as more members of her backing band join the stage (and then spend much of the set moving around instruments) and is met by a large audience. Her strong voice is given plenty of room to shine amongst organ, guitar and drums and it’s a wonderful set, there are real haunting moments and beguiling ones too as Mary crosses the boundaries of multiple genres in half an hour and then just before we are about to be treated to one final, solo the time keeper is back and that’s it. Over. Still what we got was a real treat for those in attendance
I stick around for another new (live) act to me Wall, yesterday’s set in a Church might have been a more grandeur setting but here I can get close and that intimate feeling is fitting because Lyla’s hushed vocals and her bands subtle instrumentation is beautiful and touching and makes your hairs stand on end. Her ‘biggest’ tracks to date bookend the set “Magazine” and “Shoestring” and a genuine talent is definitely confirmed.
After I head back to The Mesmerist, the place is rammed. The ‘Blog Up’ meeting is currently in progress but besides a brief chat with two bloggers I already know Robin from Breaking More Waves and Saam from Faded Glamour I stay low profile. I’m not very good at introducing myself and anonymity is pretty good too.
I’m here to see a band I’d never heard of before, local act Iyes- though given the crowds clearly a lot of people had – unfortunately they have some technical problems with their electronics and have to scrap their normal show in favour of a short acoustic set, for me at least it works perfectly and they pull of it off effortlessly with a few smiles too. The vocals are stunning and I made a mental note to check out the ‘real’ band afterwards.
I decide there is time to do a quick run and after four hours of standing on my feet I rush back to my room, run a quick 5k (Brighton is perfect for these short runs up and down the seafront) and return to The Mesmerist in good time to see Embersfor the second time in as many days. Worries about the sound in the pub managing with the sheer intensity of their music prove unfounded and as with yesterday it almost blows the roof on the room. I won’t repeat my praise again but suffice to say this band is incredible - 'The' unquestionable find (although I'd already 'found' them) of The Great Escape 2013.
A change of tempo next as I head to the festival’s main hub to see Farao performing on the hub ‘stage’, the only outdoor show I saw at The Great Escape this time around and it is almost sunny too. Farao have the sort of devastating harmonies that linger in your brain, so beautifully written and delivered by Kari’s gorgeous, ethereal vocals that make the listener fall effortlessly in love with them.
It feels weird to be in Audio – the darkest in a City of dark venues – whilst it’s still sunny outside, I’m here for Parlourand it’s very busy for a super early show - and afterwards when I leave there is also a massive queue waiting to go in - the next act on were NME buzz band Superfood who may or may not be good, I’ve never heard them – the sound guy takes a while to get the sound anything like right but eventually Parlour shine with a whirling cocktail and wonderful shoegaze, shimmering guitars are radiant and fuzzy and beautiful daydreams occur, the only track I'm familiar with before "My Love" sounds even better live so it's a win-win set.
I’m then left with an evening for which I didn’t really have any plans, after numerous clashes over the weekend I found Saturday night a little on the light side – unless you are a fan of electronica. I decide in the end to go and sit in Blind Tiger for Big Deal (who annoyingly directly clash with Drop Out Venus, the other band I’d have liked to have seen) so I taste a few acts I’d never heard before.
The first of which were Australian act Dune, unfortunately there is no sign of Frank Herbert and their dance friendly eltectro-pop, whilst enjoyable enough, seems out of place at 8pm. An early morning set, ironically in one of those dark and dingy venues I’ve been talking about rather than on the white walls of Blind Tiger, when people had enjoyed a few more drinks and were up for a boogie would have suited themh more, they are surprisingly enjoyable still with thick bass-lines combining with an engaging front-woman and although I doubt I’ll be queuing up at their album launch, the set passes quickly.
Next up is a girl making a bit of a name for herself, Chloe Howl, I can see why. Her sound combines mainstream with electro-pop, it’s a combination that has worked with blogs over the past twelve months and her three tracks on YouTube are at a million plays in total. It's not really my genre and her biggest song so far "Rumour" doesn't do much for me but her smooth vocals are win me over on the beautiful and undoubted highlight "I Wish I Could Tell You".
Afterwards YADi arrives to an alarmingly empty stage which gives me immediate pre-gig worries. No amps, no guitars, no keyboards. All the sounds come from the drummer whose beats add to a backing track whilst YADi dances around the stage. I’m not sure if it’s the Doom Bar I've been drinking a little to quickly or whether the combination of Eastern chimes, pummeling beats and pop is now ‘my thing’ but I quite enjoy it. Closing track and lead track from her recently released EP The Blow is the clear peak, again I’m not sure they’ll be a round two but it’s fun and in spirit of Eurovision which is happening at this exact same time, fun is good enough for me.
Big Deal prove they are deserved headliners of the night almost immediately, an expanded sound means their duo are now a quartet and the more minimal beginnings are put to bed in favour of a lively, grungy sound. Earlier that day it had been commented to me that the most frequent word on this blog is probably fuzz and here I am using it again, fuzz is definitely apt here, “In Your Car” and “Teradactol” are the two big (and familiar to me beforehand) tracks in the set, dramatic and thunderous, with album two due very shortly, Big Deal are set to be just that.
That’s your lot. The Great Escape 2013 comes and goes in three whirlwind days. Overall it has been a good year if not my favourite ever. Thoght I'm sad it's over and I’ll be back again next year without any doubt.
Thinking of coming next year? Aside from arriving at a venue before doors opening I didn't have to queue once so don’t let people saying they couldn't get in anywhere put you off coming next year – it’s all, as I've said before, about being prepared. There are the niggling problems which seemingly occur every year such as lack of updates over the weekend about schedule changes and some poor venue choices for bands but overall The Great Escape organisers do a fine job and it should be an essential part of a new music fans diary. Only three hundred and sixty days until the next one! Oh, buy your tickets when the Super Early Bird tickets go on sale. I paid £35 for the whole weekend - later a Saturday day ticket was that same price.
A band I'm very much looking forward to breaking my live duck with are Golden Fable, the duo have been a favourite of mine since I fell smitten with their beautifully natural sound last year, the recently revamped "Crossfire" a perfect example, where the choral vocals of Rebecca Palin meet equally serene instrumentation to spine-tingling effect.
Want to start your Friday evening with a little bit of genuine class and delicate, shimmering gorgeousness? Golden Fable is the place to be.
Friday 17th May - 20.45 - St Mary's Church Saturday 18th May - 14.30 - Komedia
Wall is another act I'll be seeing for the first time over the course of the weekend, their swirling, minimal soundscapes are sure to suit the acoustics of a church show and with Lyla's intimate vocals resonating crystal clear, the result is sure to be sweet, and leave you feeling all weak at the knees.
Friday 17th May - 19.15 - St Bartholomew's Church Saturday 18th May - 18.00 - The Metro Hub
Kari Jahnsen (aka Farao) has been pretty busy since forming her latest pseudonym at the turn of the year, with a trip to Iceland to record her debut release and a couple of European support tours under her hat already the Great Escape shows will come as a warm up to Farao's first ever headlining show in a couple of weeks time and I'm very excited to see how her overall sound has progressed since Like Spinning.
My earlier review of "Skin" described the sound as an "intricate web of luxurious, sprawling instrumentation and honey-sweet harmonies combining to majestic results" - that will do me!
A long, early walk on Thursday evening is in prospect to check out a band I've been following for a while now for the first time - I think it's there first time in the UK - Whirr (formerly Whirl) are over from San Francisco to promote their debut full-length Pipe Dreams.
Earlier single "Junebouvier" highlights their potential with a bold and powerful avalanche of guitar textures, pounding drums and girl/boy vocals. Beautiful / noisy shoegaze fans should not miss this!
Arguably the 'biggest' act I plan on seeing over the entire weekend and the biggest venue too, Melody's Echo Chamber have amassed a small army of fans since the hazy seduction of "I Follow You" was released last year, part dream-pop combines with part wide-eyed psychedelia to sumptuous effect. Laid-back, Cinematic and beautiful.
Experience tells me The Corn Exchange can get busy for the late night show, Warpaint was a complete no-go area last year - if you want to see this one, plan ahead.
Thursday 16th May - 18.55 - The Mesmerist (Alt Escape) Thursday 16th May - 20.50 - The Black Dove (Alt Escape)
Last but by no means least on this little preview of bands are Curxes, the part Brightonian duo are back at The Great Escape for the second year running and with any luck the earlier set-time of this years show(s) will mean they have an audience more capable of enjoying their music rather than crashing into Roberta's keys like at last years show. A stage would help too.
Their dramatic, brilliant songs have been featured here on numerous occasions and I won't repeat myself again, just say this, come and fucking see them - you won't regret it.
When I last mentioned Kari Jahnsen just after Christmas it was with "Forces", a track which introduced her new nom de plume Farao and to mention a forthcoming trip to Iceland to record her debut single, the results of which have now been shared with us lucky folk...
"Skin", due for digital only release on May 27th, highlights a more adventurousness tone than Kari's previous work with Like Spinning where an intricate web of luxurious, sprawling instrumentation and honey-sweet harmonies combine to majestic results. Rich and fresh-sounding "Skin" sets the tone for Farao, whose pristine voice and genuinely heart-felt song-craft is sure wrap itself around many a listener, atmospheric, well-crafted and beautiful.
Farao have a spate of dates coming up, on tour with Paper Aeroplanes, at The Great Escape and finally (for now at least) a debut headlining show at The Sebright Arms on May 29th - details.
Update 10th April - I've added a possibly an even more beautiful live version of the track recorded for TLOBF, spine-tinglingly good.
I'll start this post off with some bad news, Like Spinning is no more but fear not, hold off from the mourning, from the ashes rises Farao, a new pseudonym for the extremely talented London based singer-songwriter Kari Jahnsen.
Before heading to record her first single in Iceland with a spring release penned Kari has teased us with a free download of a track which you might previous know as a Like Spinning song, "Forces". Drenched in melancholic instrumentation and a subtle finger-plucked acoustic waltz the beautifully produced track is a pure, daydreaming wonder with Kari's ethereal vocals shining with glacial grace and splendour.
I have all my fingers crossed that a previous Like Spinning track called "The Hours" is one of those lined-up for the EP, I'm sure I'll be bringing news of the release in any case.