Further proof – if it were remotely needed – that Edinburgh is no longer simply a home to beardy strummers comes in the shape of Convex Mancave.
Surely an oddity in whatever city they would choose for their residence, this music is not for the faint-hearted.
The band comprises Matt Collings who has been making instrumental guitar-based music for a number of years and Ally Winford who released the dreamlike Quirky album earlier this year under the name Greyhound Out of Mainline.
Those familiar with both artists will not be shocked by the output of Convex Mancave, but those used to traditional song structures, melodies and vocals might. So far they’ve released three EPs - Atomic Blonde in E, Big In Mogadishu (both of which comprise a single 20 minute-ish track) and July’s Dance of the Mancavettes, which breaks the music up into five distinguishable numbers.
Musically we’re looking at ambient drone. Well clear of the mainstream, well clear of a lot of people’s taste but something that’s worth taking the time to investigate. You’ll click within seconds as to whether this is your ‘thing’ or not but if it is, just shut your eyes and the music will take you to another plain entirely.
This is music to be absorbed. Don’t even think about doing anything else while it’s on – it just won’t work.
You can listen for yourself easily enough. Their EPs are all either ‘name your price’ or free on Bandcamp and the band play Sneaky Pete’s on Sunday (September 2) in support of the recently reformed Amusement Parks on Fire, with American shoegazers Nightmare Air also in tow.
We spoke to Matt and Ally this week.
So who the hell are you?
Ally: We’re Ally and Matt, residents of Edinburgh and part-time obnoxious noisemakers. Our music was once described online as a “cosmo-centric doctrine of the world around us”. We thought that was pretty ace.
Describe your sound in ten words or less.
Ally: Five words each, how fun!
Matt: Blistering, Spontaneous, Instinctive, Loud, Mancave.
How did you guys meet and start making music together?
Ally: Matt and I have lived together for a while, but I first encountered him when he was recording under his Sketches For Albinos alter ego years ago. I’ve played guitar in his wildly great, Rhys Chatham-esque multi-guitar pieces before, but Convex Mancave came about when we put on a show featuring Mini50 Records’ Chris Tenz who was over from Canada touring. Two days later after bonding over a shared love of Bark Psychosis, we decided to have a drunken noise jam. Matt recorded and mixed it in real time, and that live piece was our first EP ‘Atomic Blonde In E’. Tenz is sadly stranded back in Calgary, so Matt and I are currently fighting the noisy fight ourselves.
Matt: Amusement Parks on Fire are kind of the start of our relationship, strangely. I met them when they were mixing ‘Out of the Angeles’ in Sigur Rós´s studio in Iceland when I lived there. Shortly after I think Ally wrote an excellent piece on them on his blog. I wrote to him offering him some free music (which is why blogs starts surely…) and he then wrote a piece about my Sketches for Albinos project. We met at the My Bloody Valentine ATP a few years ago and ended up living together when I moved to Edinburgh to study an Masters. Now we pool our desire for rawkous guitar noise.
Has it been difficult to make time for the band given you both record in your own right?
Ally: Nope – that’s the joy of Mancave. We tend to improv more or less everything you hear on the EPs, it’s all recorded and mixed in real time and then we splice the best bits together. I think Dance of the Mancavettes was done in a grand total of two hours.
Matt: It’s always a pleasure! Unlike a lot of the music I do, Mancave involves almost no preparation or intellectual thought, and doesn’t really function without alcohol. We don’t question what comes out at the time, and I tend to change how I do things every time we make a new set of pieces, just so I constantly have to improvise and come up with a different way of approaching Ally’s guitar.
What inspired Dance of the Mancavettes?
Ally: ‘Dance of the Mancavettes’ is a concept EP about the further adventures of Carly Rae Jepsen. Miss Jepsen realises that what she has done is a plague upon the human race after listening to the first Suicide LP. Her epiphany is that the only way to fix her sins is by making brutal noise music ala Vega and Rev, and the EP tells the tale of her journey out of musical purgatory. It’s a twisted love story. [Ed - we have no idea who this person is but the above explanation makes us a little fearful of googling her]
Matt – Yes.
How are you feeling about the Amusement Parks show?
Ally: Being invited to support your favourite band in the world doesn’t happen every day. I need say no more. In other words, I’m shitting myself.
Matt: I’ve been promised the use of their back-line, which means I can spit everything out through a huge line of guitar amps, which I’m excited about. Marshall was made for Mancave.
Can we expect to see more shows being lined up?
Ally: We would love nothing more than to play as often as possible, as this is FUN for us. That’s the point. So if you want to book us for your noise freakouts, twee indie pop gigs, weddings, graduations or bar mitzvahs, then give us a shout any time. Did that sound too desperate? No? Pimpin’.
Matt – There aren’t that many gigs which it makes sense for us to be playing at in Edinburgh really, apart from Grindsightopeneye and Braw Gigs. Although scaring the shit out of some twee indie kids would be high on my priorities list. It’d be nice to play in Glasgow too.
What in holy Christ is a ‘convex mancave’?
Ally: What indeed?
Matt: Is it an anagram?