It’s quite a feat for a young band to attract the likes of Arthur Brown and Herbie Flowers as guest artists on their new album – especially when they’ve been denied the sort of publicity and media hype that’s almost always expected when labelling “success” these days.
But The Moulettes have done it. In fact this talented group of musicians and songwriters seems to have an endless stream of music names willing to work with them.
To understand why, you'd need to have been at The Plough Arts Centre when they were performing, a few days before their third album release Constellations. The relatively small audience was treated to something very special indeed that night.
The Moulettes are hard to define. Modern folk? Yes, but there's so much more – psychedelic rock, classical, film scores, tribal beats. One minute you're marvelling at the precious sound of Songbird, perfect in its simplicity and pureness; the next moment you're plunged into a dirty, gutsy and oh so sexy underworld with Devil Of Mine. The songs are poetic, wrenching out every human emotion but also drawing ornate, almost microscopic pictures of the natural, and supernatural, world around us. Every song takes you on a delicious journey where nothing is familiar and yet it all connects with something deep inside. Complex and also at times absurdly catchy, long after you've left the gig you'll be recalling those perfect harmonies or song lines that feed the soul.
This tapestry of colour and sounds – to quote the band themselves – is fronted by Hannah Miller on cello, and Ruth Skipper on bassoon and autoharp; their charisma brings a hefty dose of girl power to The Moulettes, helped by the vintage-style outfits – they so love to dress up. With Ollie Austin on drums and Joe Kelly on double bass (filling in for Jim Mortimore), they hit hard with their confidence and musicianship. Music is what defines these young people, hugging their instruments to them, they live it and breathe it – indeed you’ll find breath, hisses and growls are used to create their songs. Being in their presence is quite an intoxicating experience, partly due to their creative energy, which seems endless – manifesting through music, costume, art (they even made the models for the album cover) – and partly through the sheer stomping fun of it all.
Support on the night came from Kate Young, leading us to the main event with some magical songs. She also played with the band, effortlessly slipping into their musical imaginings.
This was a gig that was over all too soon. We left wanting more, intrigued and feeling we'd witnessed something quite extraordinary.
Constellations is released on Monday, June 2.