A bit of background I feel compelled to tell you before diving into this:ÃÂ Swimming demonstrate perfectly, to me, the futility of a music PR trying to get anyone but a full-time, desk-bound professional music hack to listen to and write about a band, and this blog will probably get me blacklisted, but fuck it.
Perhaps it’s just me, but as a for-the-love-of-it and, frankly, fairweather (especially during festival season) reviewer, I don’t want anyone who is paid to tell me how good a band is telling me how good a band is. We love the pure chance of the discovery, and where’s the romance in that? ‘Oh yeah, this is one of my favourite bands, I first heard them when their promo landed on my doormat and there was a press release telling me they were great, so I put the CD on and I liked it’. Great story for the grandkids there. That isn’t how real people fall in love with music; that is a mail order bride, and I can’t muster that kind of enthusiasm for so sterile a process.
Which brings me to Swimming. It wasn’t a press release or an email or a promo that first brought them to my attention, despite their first release being in 2005, but a trawl through zine sites looking for unsigned recommendations from Nottingham for background music, and the forums spoke loud and clear, as did bands who had played with them. One listen to aÃÂ pre-album mix of Team Jetstream and I was in love – it was soÃÂ iridescent and joyful; an excited stuttering, gradually swelling to an affirmation that ‘there is love, love, love, where we are’. I came for backing music, and left with a new mantra.
So when full album Ecstatics International was released this year – complete with tour – I had to see whether they could make this noise live or whether I was about to be horribly let down, fully expecting to discover that clever production has a lot to answer for.
Not so. From the opening chimes of Neutron Wireless Crystal, it was all there, just as beautiful. Layer upon layer of icy, sparkling synth sounds, peaceful,ÃÂ but danceable – a big, glittering zen bomb exploding around the room like a deeply 80s Mercury Rev circling MGMT.
There’s a heavy reliance on samples, of course, but this is still a five-piece band, the drums are live, and those otherwordly warbles are all real.
The fiercely positive Sun In The Island is one of their most immediate tunes, and packs a heavy punch where the others sparkle more ambiguously and maybe take a little more time, but it’s worth it.
Swimming have a hometown gig at the Broadway Cinema in Nottingham on 2nd December, entry is free and everyone has to wear headphones. More info.
Your Swimming starter pack (armbands included):
Sun In The Island
Neutron Wireless Crystal