Review by James Hunter
Hailing from various towns and cities across southern England, Mother’s Watching Chair is a London-based instrumental band, currently making their mark on the city’s underground music scene. In recent years, with the advent of social media and YouTube, it has become much more difficult to stand out from the crowd, but the distinctive tones of MWC provide the perfect grounding from which to give it a pretty good go. To be unique in this day and age is a challenge; Mother’s Watching Chair are certainly that.
At its heart, the band is very much based on the solid foundations of rock music, and revolves around an extraordinarily tight rhythm section (Alistair McCallum on bass guitar; Jim Macrae on drums). However, MWC has taken these fundamental principles and twisted them in a way only five music graduates could. In doing so, they have created a new sub-genre: the self-styled “jazz rock histrionics”. Indeed, the seamless integration of saxophone and keyboards (Dan Sommers) into an aural landscape littered with electronic outbursts has produced music that cannot (and arguably should not) be categorised.
There are certainly comparisons that can be made with the music of The Mars Volta and, to an extent, Frank Zappa (the song names alone are reminiscent of such artists), but this EP is unmistakably contemporary. Nowhere is this more obvious than in opening track, Dome Piece. Following an introductory section that would effortlessly fit into a modern piece of drum-and-bass, the listener is treated to a fragment of much more progressive, even bombastic, music. Then, all of a sudden, our ears are whisked away into the more laid-back world of jazz. The beauty of MWC’s compositional style is the way in which countless genres, on the surface incompatible, are united to create an astonishingly cohesive record.
The outstanding piece on the EP is Omni Lochrical Palpitations. A lengthy and meandering track, it is a journey that takes in both a guitar-led (Nathan Smith and Dan Bowery) atmospheric wilderness – at times reminiscent of Oceansize – and the by-now familiar climes of groove-orientated and jazz-influenced rock.
MWC’s greatest strength is its diversity. The fact that the band members have experience in playing everything from extreme metal to gypsy-folk comes as no surprise. Moreover, the group’s influences are no less diverse: they include, amongst others, Bjork, Radiohead, Muddy Waters, Prince and Dream Theater. The skill of MWC throughout this EP has been to incorporate such influences without wearing them too obviously on their sleeves.
Overall, this EP represents a collection of well-composed jazz rock tracks, which never stray too far from their focus. The band is never guilty of being extravagant for the sake of extravagance, and, unlike some other progressive bands, cannot be accused of self-indulgence. Mother’s Watching Chair will be performing across England in the next few months, and are currently working on a follow-up release. Keep your ear to the ground, because you may well hear the rumblings of a new power within the world of progressive/jazz music.