Few artists have as many entry points for listeners as Mica Levi, who often goes by Micachu. You may have heard her work with orchestras such as the London Philharmonic and the London Sinfonietta, or her solo experimental productions released on Demdike Stare’s DDS imprint. With her Micachu & the Shapes / Good Sad Happy Bad bandmates, she’s developed several styles of lo-fi avant-pop and released them on the Rough Trade label. She has reached fans of oddball electronics via productions for Tirzah on Greco-Roman, collaborations with the likes of Dean Blunt’s Babyfather project and various remixes and mixtapes that date back a good decade in UK music. In recent years, her feature film scores for Under the Skin and Jackie have earned her a European Film Award, Academy Award and BAFTA nominations plus the laudations of one Ryuichi Sakamoto. Having to introduce an artist that requires none is one thing, though not knowing which introduction to give is another thing entirely. Still, there are some constants that persist in each of her creative manifestations: a deep care for detail, a compulsion to prod at the boundaries and a knack for channeling characterful charm. The most important thing at this particular moment is that Micachu is back with a new release on Foom, who have previously hosted Rhys Chatham, Peter Zummo and more.
The release packages two compositions, one such recording being a cello piece Micachu had written for her mum, titled “Peace”. It’s performed by Oliver Coates, a musician who has previously collaborated with Micachu on the pair’s marvellous album for Slip last year, Remain Calm. An accomplished cellist, producer and composer, Coates is similarly spread across a range of commitments; solo productions, performances alongside Peter Zummo, Bass Clef and more, concerts with Dean Blunt and Actress, orchestral work with the London Contemporary and Radiohead plus scoring the creations of visual artist Lawrence Lek. “Peace” is a track that directly transports you to the slow, affectionate tranquility of a Sunday morning. Rising from its sleepy opening, the motif of the piece is a melodic progression that builds in confidence each time it appears. It builds into something warm-hearted and contented, a welcoming piece of music that affirms and glows.
“Riding Through Drinking Harpo Dine” is the other recording on the release, reapproaching a similarly-titled composition from Micachu’s Feeling Romantic Feeling Tropical Feeling Ill. What was once a chirpy, propulsive and synth-y tune is now a wandering, quizzical piano piece, played by one of Micachu’s latest collaborators, Eliza McCarthy, who also appeared on the Jackie soundtrack. The recording plunges into lower notes, pitting the deep reverberations of each one against each other to create an all-enveloping pool of sound. It then swiftly resurfaces, unfettered and unscathed. “Riding Through Drinking Harpo Dine” almost feels like a vignette or snapshot of the life of its leading refrain – that dancing melody which roams from here to there on sheer impulse, its quirks, flourishes and inflections punctuating each moment. It’s as if the span of the recording includes neither the beginning nor the end to the life of the piece. Both tracks on the record serve as fitting windows into Micachu’s ongoing collaborations with Coates and McCarthy, though this release in particular feels distinctly personal and naturally cherishable as a result.
Micachu – Peace & Riding Through Drinking Harpo Dine is released via Foom on Friday 28th April, available digitally and on vinyl here.