Review: Shmu – Discipline/Communication

As one half of chaotic duo Zorch, Sam Chown is known for making music which requires the tagline of “challenging” cosmic rock. Chown’s solo endeavours as Shmu, however, are certainly inventive but also very accessable and unashamedly pop-centric.

‘Discipline/Communication’ has an unmistakable sun-kissed vibe, reminiscent of 1970’s yacht rock as much as dreampop. Sure, the opening gambit of ‘Impressions’ contains a hazy sequence of guitar effects but its core song is more akin to The Sea And Cake in style. ‘House Of Stares’, a fine choice for a single, revolves around a hypnotic hookline and Chown’s warm vocals. Thereafter, the radio-friendly pop moves tend to give way to more experimental fare but the excellence and tunefulness rarely peters out.

Jazzy detours take place via the Stereolab-like ‘Directions’, ‘Shadowgames’ gives an opportunity for a shoegaze pastiche, ‘Vanitos’ is one of many tracks with a Latin twist, whilst stunning couplet ‘&Hearts’ and ‘Heads Will Fall’ and their fuzzed-up psychedelic craziness could give Cornelius a run for his money. Even the eight minute finale makes the most of its repeated motif.

‘Discipline/Communication’ lasts just short of an hour but its melodicism and interest is almost relentless. Hopefully another solo excursion will follow for Chown in the future.

Web Sites:
Shmu Official Site
Shmu Bandcamp

Further Listening:
Mice Parade, The Sea And Cake, Cornelius

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