Mike Nessing reviews Australian Band Middle East’s EP, Recordings Of the Middle East:
I don’t know much about this band and they certainly aren’t willing to tell us a lot. Their bio on their website consists of one entire sentence. There may be other information on Myspace or Facebook but I stopped short of going there because I figured there was a reason that their web bio simply states that they’re “from Townsville, Australia” and “they play music”. To me this was a not so subliminal message that I really shouldn’t get hung up on facts and historical data and instead , focus on the music in front of me.
So I gave this thingy a couple of spins and some points bear mentioning. This is not a band that is going to give you poppy hooks and choruses. The Middle East are more apt to give you a tasty guitar figure and build their tunes off of that. Much of it features a type of muted pastoral beauty but the last song, “Beleriand” shows that there is a dark side to them as well. The tune has a swirling kind of planned dissonance wafting through it that is at times disturbing but by the time it ends, you understand that this is precisely the point.
I was told before sitting down with this that the band is similar to Fleet Foxes in their approach, and although I can certainly hear a little bit of that it’s not entirely accurate. There is a more subtle palate of colors here, dabbed with more of a pointillist style as opposed to full blown impressionism. I hate to go the route of “They sound like this or that” but if you pressed me enough , I’d say that The Middle East are coming from an early Genesis/King Crimson allegiance with a little Nick Drake and Gentle Giant thrown in for good measure as opposed to Fleet Foxes “Yes meets The Beach Boys” grandeur. Same church, different pew, if you will.
That’s not to say that the music here is not original. It is very much so, and the more you listen the more it becomes apparent. This is a band that most likely will be heard from down the road given the apparent shift in the pop music landscape. I know that’s just a lot of crap, but what I’m trying to say is that music like this that can be created and then actually find an audience bodes well for the future.