Monday, October 10, 2011

The Two Sides Of Eat More Cake

Since the London-based four-piece electronica band Eat More Cake released its album Climb The Ladder, the band learned a hard lesson. Musical diversity isn't always well rewarded in the industry.

"It was decided that the album was so eclectic, it might be better in two parts: EP1 with the more acoustic arrangements and EP2 with more electronic," says frontman Andrew (Andy) Briggs. "It's essentially the same album with minor alterations to the track list."

But there are downsides to breaking up an album. Splitting Climb The Ladder into two parts meant changing up the massively diverse mix of dance, hip hop, pop, and down tempo rock beats. It also meant every hard-earned review could lead readers to broken links. It meant starting from square one.

The two sides of Climb The Ladder by Eat More Cake. 

The two sides of Climb The Ladder are now Climb The Ladder (Live The Dream) EP1 and Climb The Ladder (Live The Dream) EP2, with six tracks apiece that still provide some eclectic excitement but with a more cohesive sound for each. The split might make it easier for the band to follow up, focusing on one direction instead of two.

"Since last year was taken up mostly with live shows, we've spent more time in the studio writing this year," says Briggs. "I think the ideas we are coming up with now are more consistent with each other than Climb The Ladder, except with faster, dancier beats."

That makes sense given the new video released to promote the split album. Last year, I skipped mentioning the track Smoke and Mirrors in the review. But with the new visual context, the rap beat track is addictive. There are brains behind the music, with Briggs weaving in scientific truths. Crazy.

The video is straightforward, but not so simple. Briggs worked with director Jack McInroy for months to get every shoot. And by every shot, this means taking thousands and thousands.

"It was all done with still cameras and was pretty painstaking but also a lot of fun to make," says Briggs. "I think the video adds a lot to the song and definitely suits the meaning behind it."

Briggs is right. The just under three-minute track has depth, giving the music a more contemplative quality beyond the upbeat and down tempo arrangement. Underscored by the contrast between Alexis Griffin's melody and Briggs' think rap, it's mind-bendingly addictive. It's also addictive to watch, bringing new insight into how complex every composition for Eat More Cake can be.

"A lot of the songs on Climb The Ladder are cut-and-shut affairs where we would have a loop and wonder if it would fit," says Briggs. "Others, I sat down and wrote with a guitar or piano before taking them to Matt Pearn (keyboards). Some of the lyrical tracks take a long time to write; Music Box and Glass Houses took well over a year to finish."

Has To Be Done was one of the most riveting tracks off the LP release. Glass Houses was a psychedelic rap rock blend. But on the split, both songs feel deeper, darker and more ominous. It makes sense. With a different context, they sound like different songs. The EPs sound almost like different bands.

That said, Briggs and his primary partner, Pearn, are taking a gamble here. But they are doing it for all the right reasons. Briggs is partly discontent with the industry (but not the craft), as re-released remixes from popular bands often steal attention away from newer artists. And while there is more music and less money, people aren't trying hard enough, he said.

Briggs would know. Before he and Pearn met through a youth church group (when Pearn was already working on trip-hop music), Briggs worked as a DJ. And while being a DJ doesn't influence his music today per se, he did say that listening to so much music week after week gives you a natural feel for arrangements and what has been done to death. And nothing here is done to death.

Climb The Ladder (Live The Dream) EP1 Floats 7.1 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

All in all, the split works exactly the way it is intended. Briggs said that the diversity split the listeners who were skipping through tracks. In its reincarnated state, more attention gravitates to EP1, making it better than the LP in its cohesiveness. The downside is EP2 doesn't do as much.

While it could be I'm leaning toward one side or the other, I'm not sure that's all it is. EP1 is just better. While both are different, the first is more daring with the most detailed tracks out there. You'll hear something new with every pass. Even Story Of My Life sounds better than it did in October.

You can pick up Eat More Cake Climb The Ladder (Live The Dream) EP1 on iTunes. Download it all. If you want to explore the other side, you can find Climb The Ladder (Live The Dream) EP2 there too. The psychedelic Glass Houses, riveting Has To Be Done, and delicate Red Sky are worth the listen. Add them to your watch list. This band from Harrow is one of the hardest working out there.
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