Cafe OTO Digital Releases

Source: Cafe OTO.


The Mermaid Cafe’s music arrives at the curious intersection between British song-based experimentalist practices. Tipping towards the tender minimalism of Jane and Barton and Young Marble Giants, as well as the contemporary composition of Mica Levi and Neil Luck, the group explore the awkward space where melody, harmony, sound and outré weirdness meet in tryst.

In this debut release by them, moods and tone palettes blend and shift, taking clouds of synthesis, ruffled tape work, scrapes of guitar and field recordings along with them as they lead us inward. Like the music, spoken refrains and diaristic laments arrive and disappear, providing signposts to their maze: intersections that gradually lead way to a romantic, melancholic core.


Made up of mostly brief pieces — songs, practically — Solo Guitar 2 winds tight, then unwinds, or sometimes snaps apart. Crackling, itchy static morphs into heavy, watery vibration, layered on metallic rattle. There are moments where that Bennington room sounds as sterile and lonely as a deserted art gallery. And then it becomes spacious and warm, like a cathedral filling with the hum of the universe.

The bulk of Bill’s releases are collaborations with other artists, who are drawn to him (at least in part) because he’s an innovative player and a deep listener. Those qualities hold, and in certain ways intensify when he’s on his own. As he takes a series of unlikely tools across his prone guitar with the grace and urgency of someone at a loom or an aircraft control panel, there’s a sense of reaching inward. But where some might meander or navel-gaze, Bill’s playing is a process of constant dynamic construction. What unfurls can feel intensely personal, and often — for reasons I don’t always understand — very moving. Bill isn’t interested in micromanaging his listeners’ experiences, but he does make room for