The new collection from the Bristol artist signed to Spinny Nights is unparalleled in ambition and range.
Me, Charles presents a fascinating, feverish affront to conventional melody. With an ability to merge orchestral and cinematic elements with a near-Beefheartian flair, the porous examination on display in this new EP makes for a fine addition to the Spinny Nights collection.
The project is the brainchild of Bristol singer-songwriter Charles Stooke. Citing, “Warped jazz, glitchy electronics and chamber instrumentation which reflect themes of my life to date”, it is of little surprise to see a track bathed in all of those elements, ‘100%’, make it on this year’s Slow Dance Compilation.
Now we get a new five-tracker. I can’t shake off Damon Albarn, his off-shoot experimental solo albums (thinking Dr Dee in particular) with wacky instruments that make zero sense, but work, in this EP, ‘Fine Isn’t Good’.
It is important to ringfence the immensity of the opening track, basically a Jockstrap gateway drug. It showcases the innate ability of Me, Charles to interweave a sultry reverbic sound into a dystopian force field of glitchy vocals. Envisage a range from The Andrew Oldham Orchestra (the ones Allen Klein used to sue The Verve) to Cyberpunk.
That is not to mention some of the big, brash brass on display, just what one needs on a sunset train home as we edge closer to the solstice. ‘Waiting’ brings minimalist zest: smoother instrumentation with a lucid vocal urgency that permeates the membranes in relentless fashion.
There is a kaleidoscopic segment later in the EP. ‘White Pearl’ personifies this with raindrops of vocal inquisition condensing against a windowpane. A similar fragility unsheathes itself in arguably the lynchpin of the EP, the rhythmic, warmly jazzy ‘What Never Happened’.
It is like one is standing in a Moses Boyd-King Krule schism, a heavyweight championship fight of freeform thinking, groove and leftfield production that’s meshed into an inimitable, narcissistic yearning for greater security. And it’s that sheer willingness to embrace sonic imperfection that makes Me, Charles and this record so alluring.