We Get What We Get & We Don’t Get Upset is the new EP from Manchester’s Carmel Smickersgill, a brilliant name that has synchronicity with the interesting music she creates. There is humour and a playful spirit bouncing around the keen compositional expertise learned during her time studying at Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.
As I had previously written in my single review of the opening track ‘Greeting’ that it’s a collage of treated vocals, distant drums and distorted cellos, and this slow processional feel eventually morphs into a dance track fit for a dystopian nightclub. ‘Questioning’ is a joyful bounce of sampled and treated vocal sounds, flowing ribbons of arpeggios and sub-bass beats, and the 93 second ‘Interval’ marks the midpoint of the EP with spoken word over a musical backing that feels like lava lamp globules rotating. Dialogue fragments include “Running fast, across fresh grass. Falling over painfully. Water boiling. Chocolate cake. Every animal you come across today, even rats. A shared cup ot tea. Calling your friends. Oh fuck! I forgot to call my friends”.
‘Leaving’ gives us a trip through the rainforest with flute sounds like birds flying out of the canopy and cheerful passages of 60s bossa-like pop, whereas the final track, ‘Thinking’, takes us into Nepal or Indonesia, and populates the track with bells that sit somewhere between English campanology and Gamelan ringing out over the subtle bicycle spoke ticking of a drum machine.
It’s rare to get such unironic, major-key joy in music nowadays but Carmel Smickersgill must compose with a smile on her face which infuses her writing, and I was reminded of the early electronic fun of The Yellow Magic Orchestra which included Ryuichi Sakamoto. I definitely get the feeling that Smickersgill cannot be far away from composing music for modern dance as the two would be a match made in heaven but until then it’s great to let this musical effervescence tickle your ears.
Review by Paul F Cook