Von Bartha
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Von Bartha

Band Rock Avant-garde

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"Von Bartha - EP Review"

Von Bartha

Von Bartha have a knack of grabbing a listeners attention even before they've listened to a note. It’s not many bands who provide not only include a biography of their fictional namesake, but also provide a family tree (?!) with their EP. But this Bristol four-piece have not only embraced their avant garde leanings, but have lead them upstairs, thrown them on the bed and locked the door.

Fronted by half woman/ half banshee Emma, the band describe themselves as ‘The Shadows dunked in LSD’. Not a description I would have chosen, but it’s evocative none the least, and gives you a good idea of the odd-pop waiting for you. But so much for the band’s aesthetic; what are the tunes like?

This self-titled EP kicks off with ‘Bod’, a creepy off kilter tune with guitars that sound like seaside arcade machines gone horribly wrong. The song has a strange lolloping momentum, speeding up and slowing down at random intervals. This is a good thing obviously.

Although they may name check nan-rock titans The Shadows, sonically Von Bartha owe more to The Horrors, or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at their more dramatic. Tunes skitter along, with bass player Gaz positioning himself more as a second guitarist than a traditional rhythm player. The bands’ casual disregard for things like riffs and major chords, gives a sense of creeping discomfort to the record.

This of course is not helped by lead singer Emma who can croon soulfully one minute and then start shouting her head off like PJ Harvey gone feral. Compare the delicate ‘Cover Your Mouth’, with its fairground ride baseline to ‘Sit, Lola, Sit’, which turns the Pixies quiet-loud-quiet structure on its head.

Von Bartha aren't just about turning pop convention and weirding out music reviewers; they also have an aggressive streak. Second song ‘Tank’ carries on the haunted house indie rock of the previous track, but interrupts it regularly with stabs of heavy metal aggression. Listening to Von Bartha, it becomes clear that there is a nascent hard rocking streak fighting to escape the arty artifice of the band’s music.

Von Bartha are a hard band to put in to words. Combining the gothic tinge of the early Horrors, with 50’s jangle pop is a strange but incredibly pleasant mix. It’s even better if you like your rock bands with more than a splash of arty pretension. If that’s the kind of thing that gets your blood pumping, then I urge you to check them out on Facebook. You might even be able to see their family tree - Live Music Scene


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Currently at a loss for words...