The rough production techniques, the jangly guitar, this style of folk sounds like it was recorded in the 1920s but with occasional blurps of digital passion. It is perhaps modern music’s current fusion obsession, especially for those who wish to break out of the Sunday afternoon folk feel, and King Of Cats shoots and scores in that respect.
Max’s vocal cuts straight through the dirty mix, almost wining but always with typically inexplicable lyrics. This definitely goes hand in hand with his use of wonky synths and brash guitars. Perhaps what is most surprising about this record is that the writing style is terribly traditional but the way it is arranged is wonderfully odd. The simple, almost country, sounding chords on the guitar and organ would not be out of place in good old Nashville but often this sweet harmony descends into a grungy underground cellar – where terrible things lie.
One of the highlights is ‘Zombie In A Well Nailed Coffin’ not alone for its title! It starts with folky guitar and distant vocals, and just when you feel comfortable it descends into a mess of lo-fi strumming, often out of time. But why not? This record continues to intrigue.
The next track ‘Circle!’ introduces banjo and bouncy bass which could possibly be firmly in Stornoway territory but then a harsh synth is placed on top of the mix. Nothing seems to go as you expect. The E.P concludes with a number played on a wonderfully tinny ukelele and Max’s, by now, endearing vocals. It sounds like a mix between a teenage summer road trip, a drunk at a wedding and perfectly composed folk. But does it work? You may be shocked by the obtuse sounding synths, the dodgy guitar work and wonderfully fisherman-like vocals but stick with it.
This record does something quite profound; it breaks the rules but not by treading them in the dirt. King Of Cats subtly nudges away at the boundaries, although it may seem country at first, its experimentalism shines through and finally a King Of Cats becomes a mongrel produced by the folk scene. Torgo satisfies none of these categories and in doing that it creates something much more profound. And that is terribly refreshing.