(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #376: Formation

By on Monday, 8th February 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo by Elliott Kennedy

Editor’s note: we’re making some exciting changes in the way we cover SXSW 2016 this year, especially in the way we preview all the bands that we want to introduce you to before the big event in Austin in March. Read all about our big plans here.

South London’s Formation boasts brothers Will and Matt Ritson at the helm. 2015 saw them, along with band mates Jonny Tams, Sasha Lewis and Kai Akinde-Hummel release their second EP, the pop-funk ‘Under the Tracks’. Will and Matt’s foray into music began early on, in the orchestras and concerts run by Merton council in South London. In an interview with DIY, Will and Matt cite a variety of influences on their music, including improvised genres, particularly improvised jazz. They also note the big emphasis they place creating on groove-based music, something that really comes through in their ‘Under the Tracks’ EP.

‘Under the Tracks’ is 15 minutes of steady groove and funk-based licks, glazed with all manner of sounds from electro-pop to percussion, and cowbells aplenty. It’s really an EP for both chilled out moments and getting the party started, and can be enjoyed against all manner of backdrops. ‘Love’, the first track on the EP, moves in a gentle funk direction, with an eclectic, yet well-matched variety of sounds weaving in and out of the song. The lyrics are simple yet catchy, from the proclamation of “love wins in the end”, to “brother, my friend / your pain is not the end”, and it’ll be stuck in your head for hours after first hearing it. The band has just released a live session video for ‘Love’, which was recorded at The Pool in London. The video is atmospheric and filtered through a chilled pink exposure, matching the softly trippy nature of the track.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSgNwfdyOX0[/youtube]

The opening notes of ‘All the Rest is Noise’ seems like it’s about to break into ‘Two Weeks’ by Grizzly Bear, though the comparisons end at just a couple of bars. The track gently builds into a catchy synth number with a variety of unusual samples scattered throughout. It has an infectious chorus, with the title of the song being crowed as the music swells, before returning again to the gentle tempo of the rest of the song.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2aDLbpjlx8[/youtube]

The layering of influences that reverberate throughout Formation’s songs gives them a sound all their own. Having said that, their music is similar in sound to Theme Park, a band that also employs the use of cowbells and funky synth-laced tracks. Formation also reminds me of Jungle, in particular the layering of sounds and rich texture to the music: both bands are rooted in a foundation of funk and soul. Another group Formation have been compared favourably to is LCD Soundsystem, although this comparison is mainly aimed at their first EP ‘Young Ones’. Like LCD Soundsystem, Formation’s earlier stuff has a dance-inspired vibrancy, with more of an electronic feel. Whilst similarities still remain between their debut and ‘Under the Tracks’, the latter is more of a departure away from the solid funk-based rhythms of ‘Young Ones’, moving into a more experimental, soothing sound, with a leaning towards pop hooks.

As might be expected for a hyped band, Formation already has a bunch of festival dates penned in for 2016. They are set to appear at the Lost Village Festival 2016 in Lincolnshire, Field Day Festival 2016 in London, and at Motel Mozaique 2016 in Rotterdam (a music, dance and visual arts festival in Holland). They are also scheduled to appear at SXSW 2016 in Austin this March.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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