Hackney locals The Helmholtz Resonators will not bow easily to the indie garage band stereotype.
Noticeably absent from their promo shots are the usual floppy hipster haircuts, brown brogues or slick Ray Ban shades – replaced instead by eccentric nineteenth century top hats, fake moustaches and a geeky love for the science of sound.
The five band members – describing themselves as “musical time travellers” who go by eccentric monikers such as ‘Garland Vanderbilt’ – met while studying acoustic science together at university, which included the work of German physicist and sound theorist Hermann Von Helmholtz.
Their last album, Crystal Submarine, was followed up in 2011 by an impressive remix of their electronic dance track ‘Bombs!’ by Medicine 8, which was subsequently championed by 6 Music.
Now the enigmatic five-piece are back – this time with a free EP: Van Damme’s Vault.
Opening number ‘Clipper Ship’ is easily the strongest of the bunch. The song’s lyrics are quirky yet brooding, the synths irresistible and the psychedelic background vocals recall the creative lo-fi of post-punk outfits such as The Rapture and Of Montreal. Plus there is the additional sprinkling of irreverent humour reminiscent of the Super Furry Animals, as well as some truly punchy drum rhythms.
‘Pens & Paper’ meanwhile is a significantly more sunshiny affair – though equally as trippy and featuring some playful schoolyard lyrics. “Get your Bunsen burners out and let’s all have some fun, yeah!” an unnamed Resonator urges us. Yes, there’s definitely something more than a little ‘Yellow Submarine’ about it all, leading one to wonder if the band keep any mysterious substances hidden beneath their top hats during their frequent time travels.
Hot on its heels is the fun and frankly ridiculous ‘Trousers Down’, featuring some striking organ chords and wobbly psychedelic sounds. The track’s sole lyrics consist of the lines: “I don’t know where to look / When there’s no one else around / There is nowhere else to look / When you’ve got you’re trousers down.”
Well at least no one can accuse these guys of taking themselves too seriously.
Van Damme’s Vault by The Helmholtz Resonators is available for free download at Soundcloud.