When you’re young, being marketed at by major, multi-national record companies, you’re encouraged to see bands as one strict entity, in their own bubble, free from the outside world. As you grow older and the harsh realities of life dawn upon you, it becomes harder and harder to maintain that to ‘spice up your life’ is an all encompassing philosophy, and those that do are probably still in denial that the Spice Girls ever split up. Real life musicians are a lot more fluid than the saccharine, image centric world of pop music though, and it’s entirely possible to be in more than one group at a time, often with differing output. Manchester based Edwin Stevens has quickly realised this, hoarding imaginary membership cards of a whole range of up-and-coming groups, making him a one man who’s who of the Manchester’s bedroom scene. As well as playing in Klaus Kinski, A Middle Sex and Dinner Party (and thus making up a third of all the acts who played ‘sounds from the Other City’), he also finds time to record stuff alone, under the moniker ‘Irma Vep’.
His solo work broadens his output even further, best illustrated by recent release ‘Goodbye 33, hello plastic furniture’. Put out by fledgling label Icecapades, there are few words that can accurately describe the noise that emanates for it’s 33 and a half minutes. Joined by ‘the Avalanche band’ on the record, there’s a very definite hint of the tribal rhythms that make Mi Ami such an engaging listen, soaking their husk in glorious drone. It feels somehow euphoric as wave after wave of noise, backed by mathematically precise drumming and an array of backing instruments join in the crescendo. In the flesh, Irma Vep is a very different proposition altogether. Supporting Former Ghosts/Parenthetical Girls at Trof, Stevens played alone, offering a haunting vulnerability in place of the almost math-rock sound captured on ‘Goodbye 33…’
Unfortunately, Irma Vep’s myspace claims there’ll be no more gigs under the name until late in the year. Fortunately, Stevens is playing all over the place in other outfits all over the place, but until the cold embrace of Winter is upon, you should do your best to snap up one of the 50 handmade copies of ‘Goodbye 33, hello plastic furniture’ if you can.
Irma Vep – Executioner Blues (taken from ‘Goodbye 33…’)