I first got wind of No Ceremony via Amazing Radio. I remember it specifically because I had to watch patiently as the shitty little screen on my DAB radio spelt out the title; H U R T L O V E. The emotive piano chords and distinctive vocals had me intrigued.
The latest offering ‘Heart Breaker/Breaking Hearts’ proves that ‘HurtLove’ was no fluke. Once again there’s the melancholic grasp exercised on other singles including ‘Deliverus’. However, this single has a new trick; it’s got my feet stomping to the gritty side-chained bass and 4/4 kick, planting seeds in my suggestible mind so I’ll hassle DJ’s to play it this summer. One might call it electro, although it manages to dodge any association with the weak tripe that emanates from Sharon & Tracy nightclubs across the land. The guitars are used to frame the rhythm section with repetitive melodies that facilitate the pace of the track while adding harmony to the overall sound. The traditional presentation of the guitars will unavoidably stir genre associations, which won’t faze No Ceremony as they skilfully avoid meaningless pigeonholes.
I’ve mentioned the vocals and I’m going to mention them again, especially because I don’t want to give the impression that these guys sound anything like Chris Brown. They don’t. The mixture of unaffected and processed vocal gives the singer a unique syntax, like a vulnerable alien language. This mysterious voice sounds like a male/female duet that evokes the image of Fleetwood Mac performing on a space station in a Daft Punk video. The technique allows intimate whispering to sit alongside wailing declarations of the heart. One YouTube listener commented under the ‘HurtLove’ video, “Why the fuck am I crying?” and I’d argue the vocal timbre, modulations and lyrics are partly to blame. Fortunately for us, they are in full swing on ‘Heart Breaker/Breaking Hearts’.
Speaking more broadly, this single demonstrates No Ceremony’s ability to span genre boundaries that once stood sharply defined. I say ‘once’ because the lines are continually neglected by imaginative pioneers working away to unwittingly tear down “real music”. In a recent lecture I listened in quiet non-agreement to the woes of the music industry and its fate in the hands of Skynet, or some other cyber-evil. The lecturer would no doubt put No Ceremony in what he called “the digital blob”, and what a wonderful blob it is. The No Ceremony strategy is to punctuate the dense musical market place (the blob) with a strong double A-side every time we dare to forget about them. It’s a technique that has always worked well for house, techno, drum & bass, whatever producers. This increases the visibility of each release and ensures we are receptive; hungry even, the only proviso being that each tune has to be as strong as the last. Give or take a gnat’s whisker, that is true in this case.
Posted: Wed 11 April 2012