Album Reviews

The Invisible – The Invisible

(Accidental) UK release date: 2 March 2009

The Invisible - The Invisible Anyone’s debut album touted as being a “minimal TV On The Radio” is bound to raise curiosity, but can it live up to the hype? Categorisation never helped anyone.

The Invisible have come overground, blinking into the daylight from their respective pasts (including Róisín Murphy, XX Teens, Amy Winehouse, Paul Epworth, Polar Bear and Bugz In The Attic).

Originally intended as merely a solo album for singer Dave Okumu (regular Matthew Herbert collaborator) aided by Leo Taylor (drummer with Hot Chip) and Tom Herbert (from jazz terrorists Polar Bear), their pedigree is without question; but can they kick it? Er, yes they can (as Bob the Obama is fond of saying).

It’s about time ‘art’ was allowed to ‘rock’. Cleverclogs have thought it was enough to rip off your elder siblings Talking Heads or Gang Of Four albums with their zany afro-herky-jerk pop stylings, but this is an altogether different proposition.

The Invisible are more than the sum of parts with Dave Okumu‘s voice soothing and unsettling in the same soulful breathy intimacy that could easily turn starry-eyed stalker menace if you linger eye contact too long.

Like TV On The Radio they call to mind the glorious and criminally overlooked spacepop of ’90s band AR Kane who took Sly Stone, Can, Prince, Sonic Youth and Jimi Hendrix and put them in a blender, Monster’s Waltz harbours a sparse funk groove peppered with electro effects but isn’t afraid to liven up with a hearty chorus.

With their eponymous debut album The Invisible have woven together strands of diverse sounds to create a fresh and new musical elixir. Their music is a unique strain of danceable, multi-layered genre-spanning spacepop imbued with ethereal yet gutsy vocals – something alien but simultaneously completely familiar.

London Girl and the band’s eponymous debut LP are ambitious and skilfully crafted slices of sumptuous music, wide-ranging in their diverse influences and uncompromising in vision. Classical, medieval church music and more digitized dance sounds all simmer beneath the surface too.

Produced by Matthew Herbert, The Invisible are the first group that the celebrated electronic pioneer has been inspired to work with in this way. Herbert’s influence can be heard in the balancing of electronic elements with more natural, organic sounds, matching his studio expertise with the band’s live sound. Another vital element within the creative dynamic is the presence of phenomenal UK-based singer Eska, whose contribution adds significantly to the mood and texture of the music.

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More on The Invisible
Interview: The Invisible’s Dave Okumu on cheating death, the importance of relationships and new album Rispah
The Invisible – Rispah
The Invisible – The Invisible