Brighton’s favourite live band returns with not only a new EP, but vision too
Since the release of Tano Dragon and thanks to countless gigs, Merlin Tonto have developed their indie prog sound thanks to Owen Thomas’ carefully arranged synth compositions and Miles Boyd and Stefan Eliades’ pulsating bass riffs and off-kilter drumming. But that’s not all, they have also grown not just as musicians, but as songwriters too. This is showcased in the themes of new EP Baotou. Not just content on setting some trippy synth loops to a beat, Baotou has a fully defined concept. When asked recently what Baotou is about, Miles said “The EP title is named after an industrial city in Inner Mongolia which has this huge man made toxic polluted lake, a by-product of all the industrial activity in the area. Apparently it’s created this dystopian, almost like alien environment which we thought really conveyed the sound and imagery of the EP”.
Although Baotou is made up of four songs, it needs to be played in its entirety and as loud as you can to get the full effect. Lead single Time Pilot kicks things off in fine form. It says “So you liked the last EP and have come back for round two? Good. We’re pretty much the same band, but you might notice some subtle differences…” These differences is that the rhythm section is tighter and the electronics more out there and ultimately it feels like a step up. Shimmering Mist opens with, well a shimmering mist of electronic drones and blips until the band comes together in glorious unison for a few moments and then a slow outro beings. Forest Primeval is chocked full of techno influenced pulses and bleeps, that show the bands influences aren’t just Kraut and Prog rock based. As it progresses it teeters on that brink of breaking and self-collapse, but luckily neither happen. Beat the Sun closes the EP with track that on one hand wouldn’t have been out of place on Tano Dragon, but shows how far they’ve come since then.
Over all Baotou sounds like Holy Fuck writing a twenty minute pop song, while Vangelis producers and orchestrates everything from his framework of synths. Their songs bustle with sci-fi motifs and lo-fi indie prog attitude, culminating in a sound that bustles and pulsates along while glitchy blips and hypnotic loops fire around you.
Rumour has it that the rest of 2016 will consist of gigging and writing and recording sessions for their highly anticipated debut album.