If you’re going to call your band audiobooks, you’d better have some good stories to tell. Stories that should move you and ones to make you move. Stories about real life and surreal life and all that weirdness that you just glimpsed out of the corner of your eye.
Luckily for you, audiobooks really do. The London based duo have developed a unique ability to conjure up magical aural snapshots that wallop you like bong hits. Each of their discombobulating observations comes stretched out over a series of discomfiting oscillations, like messages from the spirit world or pulp fictions found in a box at the end of your road or a crackling pop broadcast from a far away galaxy;
Out there, across the wavelengths or in the musty pages of their books, there’s a girl who’s lost in lust, sat eating mussels on a South Wales beach; there’s an alcohol-fuelled vision of Hell as a family melts down in an airport departure lounge and there’s a carsick dog in the back of your Grandma Jimmy’s car. There’s womanly blood flowing and there’s friends in your bubble bath and there’s some very large pinches of hot salt.
So who’s telling these stories? Who are the people writing these audiobooks?
On the face of it, Evangeline Ling – a 21 year old art student and musician from Wimbledon – and David Wrench – one of the most in demand mixers and producers in modern music, a sometime cohort of Julian Cope and former denizen of North Wales – might seem an unlikely pairing. Yet a chance encounter at a mutual friend’s party just one week after David had moved south to the capital very quickly led to an experimental studio session that’s been going on ever since.
Evangeline: “I’d found myself writing these odd stories as text messages on my phone. They were too short to be proper stories… they were fragments. I’d told David about them when we met and he said, ‘Come into the studio and let’s put them to music.’”
David: “It was so perfect – this incredible text message…”
Evangeline: “The next day, we started making music. We realised pretty much immediately that what we were doing might just connect. I’m not a technically minded person, musically – David is – but we kind of synced in because we bonded as human beings. We just met and connected; I immediately trusted David. We didn’t really chat about who we are…”
David: “Neither of us are any good at small talk so we just got working and it was crazily fast, everything about it. We’ve never spent more than an hour on a track. We go in, we improvise and we either keep it or we don’t. There might be a bit of editing the next day but the creation is done incredibly quickly.”
Evangeline: “We’d work on a track and then we’d just sit and do nothing. He’d work on a mix for someone or play some records, I’d have a nap or paint or draw…”
David: “The second time Evangeline turned up at the studio she arrived in her pyjamas. She’d come all the way from Wimbledon to east London in a pair of Batman pyjamas.”
Evangeline: “I hadn’t slept all night, I’d just had this crazy adrenaline. I knew we were doing something really special and I couldn’t wait to get there. I didn’t have any clean clothes so I just thought, ‘Sod this, I’ve got to go’.”
Stories about audiobooks are as fantastical as the ones they’ve set to music, whether it’s crossing London in bed wear, misheard lyrics accidentally creating perma-tanned Welsh women (Swansea’s “Orange Gina” was once innocently a can of the famous French fizzy pop) or the fact they bonded over a mutual frustration with people who hoard as much as they did shared taste in music.
From their first meeting, Evangeline and David’s friendship has been influenced by the records they flipped through in his newly set up studio in Old Street. Very quickly, the pair found inspiration in music by artists as diverse as Bauhaus, Aphrodite’s Child, Marilyn Manson, Michael Jackson, Flower Traveling Band, the Fall, Faust, Tropicalia and Dory Previn.
Evangeline: “Dory frickin Previn, man.”
David: “Her record Mythical Kings and Iguanas is an incredible piece of work; she really was a genius. Lyrically, that’s maybe the closest link to audiobooks.”
If the bracingly honest and often troubled words of Previn helped influence Evangeline’s stories, the music they’re set to comes from an entirely different place. Having developed a kind of psychic musical response to Evangeline’s surrealist texts, David set about soundtracking the weird worlds she was delivering on a daily basis. Much of the resulting music – at times odd, beautiful, unique, hilarious, disquieting, pensive, hypnotic, open, free – is collected together on ‘Now! (in a minute)’ – the mind-bending follow up to the head-turning four track Gothenburg EP and the duo’s first full length album.
Like the band themselves, ‘Now! (in a minute)’ doesn’t do the things that you’d expect. While opener Mother Hen might be a modernist nursery rhyme sat atop skittering proggy electronics, the dual vocals on the tracks Hot Salt and Friends in the Bubble Bath perfectly channel the conflict and contradiction of Don’t You Want Me (The Human League) into something ultra-modern and almost ludicrously addictive. Elsewhere, the primal, gothic drone of Womanly Blood sits like a brooding weather condition until it rips apart thanks to some heavy percussive artillery from Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa (the only other contributor to the record) and Dance Your Life Away sounds like the soundtrack to the kind of inhibition free moonlight voodoo party that you wish your mates had invited you at Glastonbury last year.
David: “With that track particularly, we wanted to emulate that thing Michael Jackson did where he uses sounds really rhythmically to inject an incredible energy into his music… I love it when vocals become their own thing that can’t really be written down.”
Evangeline: “And we were listening to a lot of Marilyn Manson in the studio. I find the way he sings very rhythmically really inspiring.”
A band that takes its cues from the King of Pop and the Antichrist Superstar, creates music in daily automatic writing sessions and rides the neon ley lines that connect of the North Wales coast to the psycho-bustle of after hours London are clearly on a very singular path to greatness – a path they’re already someway down, having taken their first footsteps out of the studio and onto the stage for a handful of truly mesmerizing live shows.
Time, then, to welcome these strange superheroes – this inhuman league – into your life. You might not know it yet but the story is already written. It says audiobooks are your new favourite band.