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  • Magnus Crawshaw

‘That’s My God’: Tapir at the Hug & Pint

Tapir! are six stupid, ugly, idiot, smelly pigs (self-described). They also happen to be despicably talented. When I saw Tapir! at the Hug & Pint, Glasgow, last week, the indie folk auteurs had their heads furnished with abstract papier-mâché masks as they played out their cinematic, avant-garde folk, audibly astonishing the audience as they showed off the latent talent expressed on their recently released debut, The Pilgrim, Their God and The King of My Decrepit Mountain.

 

Folkies in essence, such a label does not do the band justice, as they have established themselves in the experimental and indie scenes in London. Speaking to them after the show, they name-dropped friends Mary in the Junkyard and Ugly UK.  Representatives from Tapir! were mortified and enthused when I informed them that they had overtaken Ugly as my current ‘Only Band That Matters in the World Right Now.’ With their hypnotic, repetitive arpeggios, unusual instrumentation and avant-garde approach to melodic songwriting, they are further evidence of the urgent need to study the impact In Rainbows has had on industrial society. The slightly limited onstage instrumentation stands as the only criticism of the performance, with sound effects and brass often coming courtesy of a sampler. Nevertheless, they were blessed with both powerful live drums and gentle drum machine, a combination that has come to define their artful sound.

 

Their lead singer, Ike Grey, channeling Lieutenant Dan from Forrest Gump in fashion sensibility, has a voice that mesmerises and lilts atop the beat. His vocals offer ethereal, floating melodies equally at home nestled amongst harmonies and rising above in startlingly falsetto. Outside the venue later that night, he joked that a vibrato pedal had been used to achieve the angelic tones for their opus, The Nether (Face to Face), but truthfully, I wasn’t sure it was a joke. His vocals have an almost unnatural perfection which never failed to make at least several hairs stand on end.

 

Deserving credit for being the only contemporary band with the audacity to cover Erik Satie, Tapir! first came into my life with their outstanding interpolation of Gymnopedie. Taking the track in a dark, post-rock direction, Gymnopedie stands as the perfect introduction to the band. Ike spoke little between tracks to preserve the storytelling on the album, which tells the tales of the eponymous ‘Pilgrim’ on his journey through a whimsical folklore world. However, he took a pause to explain that Gymnopedie was ‘about sand.’ Thanks Ike. The most intimate moment came in the penultimate song, Eidolon, which featured Ike sitting alone on stage, regaling us with a sleepy, comforting love song which soothed the tension the band had built up. Finishing with an early rendering of a new song, it was clear that our blue-light basement had become the temporary home to the great hope of British pop.

 

Special shout outs go to the Weathermen, the opening act purveying an angular, post-punky take on Americana, Emily Hubbard of Tapir! who was willing to explain the difference between a cornet and a flugelhorn (unlike some people), and Ronnie Longfellow of Tapir!, who said we had similar haircuts. Lovely people.

 

Tapir! released their debut album, ‘The Pilgrim, Their God and The King of My Decrepit Mountain,’ on Heavenly Records on 26 January, 2024.

 

By Magnus Crawshaw (he/him)

 




 

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