C/T REVIEW: Nothankyou – ‘Know Yourself’ & ‘Oyster’

Singles / Words

15 Aug 13



Indie powerhouse Tom Vek and US composer Olga Bell have wanted this for a while. Finally together, they are Nothankyou, a Moshi Moshi signing with a debut Double A Side featuring ‘Know Yourself’ and ‘Oyster’

They’re both tracks which cosign Bell’s Bond girlish vocals to the beat-thud of Vek’s machismo musical vogue.

‘I Know Yourself’ is cloaked with huge beats and percussive spits which accuse just like the lyrics ‘you’re loveless, but you love it’ – it’s Tom Vek in ‘A Chore’ mode but Bell’s vocals up the surreality to make this mega good value, loaded with tension and pressure.

Tune out of Vek’s gothic rhythms and there’s sound flourishes akin to TEED in ‘Oyster’, the decorative half of this mega project. ‘Oyster’’s steel sounding percussion clatters atop waves of electronica which are new for Vek; this newness propped up by his staple – an abundance of staccato chord play.

These tracks are joyous and moreish; adorned with Vek and Bell’s differing experimental palates. They introduce a duo who will be forever obsessed with upping the ante- what’s next?

Geographically straddling the Atlantic, and with their collaboration coming together in bits and pieces over MySpace, Nothankyou is a narrative about exceeding the sum of parts. ‘Know Yourself’ and ‘Oyster’ both build up their brooding synth-rock architecture slowly, subtly, into something formidable; much as Tom Vek and Olga Bell – not household names in their own right, I hope I’m not unfair in saying – together make a fizzing compound of experimentation and charisma.

‘Know Yourself’ rattles along; its boisterous percussion joined by a recalcitrant bass, then chompy synthesisers and – crucially, and contradictorily – then Bell’s dainty little set of vocal harmonies. How does something possess, simultaneously, such limbering ugliness and graceful fragility? Again there’s the transcendence of individual elements.

This is far too off-beat and brilliant to make a dance hit, but it still has all the chops, rhythmically speaking. ‘Oyster’ is busier and more expressive, if not necessarily as gripping. Vek goes to town on the warping, riffing synthesisers as Bell indulges a cacophony of vocal effects, putting no small amount of powerful, Florence Welchian lungwork into it all. This is fabulous chemistry.

The chorus to Nothankyou’s ‘Know Yourself’ is addictive, with Enya-esque vocal stylings, swirling infectiously, all “ooo, ooo, ooo (etc)” but with a much sturdier, metallic musical backdrop: Industrial Enya, if you will.

‘Oyster’ also has a chorus to die for, announced with a doom-laden synth hook which is just superbly bonkers. Sadly, I’m struggling to think where ‘Oyster’ belongs: too slow for a club, too enormous, too expansive for everyday listening. It belongs in the end credits of a murderous Ryan Gosling drama. Or a Bourne movie.

That’s quite a niche but as far as I’m concerned Nothankyou have nailed it. Move aside Moby. What’s that? He already left? Well that cuts down on the admin.

Check out 'Know Yourself' via Moshi Moshi's Soundcloud [soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/94791825" params="" width=" 100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

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