It’s always the ones that catch you off guard that hit the hardest. Rising from the evergreen depths of Manchester’s experimental scene, Carmel Smickersgill has delivered a disorienting yet triumphant slice of abstract pop on ‘Questioning’, the second taste of her newly announced EP We Get What We Get And We Don’t Get Upset.
As disjointed vowel sounds pile upon each other and scramble to form a giddy beat, you’re led to expect the track to mutate into something foreboding. Where previous single ‘Greeting’ begins in a languid state of trippiness before developing into a pounding tribal rhythm against a wall of harsh synths, ‘Questioning’ falls in the opposite direction, almost becoming euphoric as the French horn takes centre-stage. The use of brass embellishes the track with an air of pomp and circumstance, but while Smickersgill shows flashes of her classical chops in parts of the track, she’s also ripping these notions apart by shoehorning in contemporary flair.
There’s a lot to be said for the composer’s relationship with occasional mentor Anna Meredith, as flashes of her approaches to recontextualising classical tropes in an experimental electronic setting shine through on ‘Questioning’. Having this “voice of encouragement” may be doing Carmel Smickersgill plenty of favours, but there’s definitely plenty of her own character and innovation on the track, something which she has previously demonstrated as a member of Bunny Hoova and in her own orchestral works.
With this second offering from the EP, there’s further things to find yourself excited about, and equally as many to leave you scratching your head in wonder, but either way – it’s gloriously addictive.
Words: Reuben Cross // Photo: Elspeth Moore
‘Questioning’ is out now via PRAH Recordings and is taken from Carmel Smickersgill’s debut EP ‘We Get What We Get And We Don’t Get Upset’ due to be released on April 15th. Stream the track and pre-order the record via Bandcamp.