The one-man-band All These Animals published their new EP Follow-Up on 26th July. Whether the title is just a laconic nod to the fact that the EP is the, well, follow-up to I Drew A Ghost, released almost exactly a year ago, well, that’s left up to us to decide.
But what we do know for sure is that the two pieces of work could fit happily into a single album, since the four new songs pick up where I Drew A Ghost left off.
Mike Wilson is from Brooklyn but has lived in Berlin for the last few years. He started the project All These Animals as a trio originally. But after personal and personnel changes All These Animals reduced to the one-man-band that it is today.
Without the money for either studio recordings or session sidemen, Wilson recorded the new EP just as he did the previous one – in “various apartments” and played all tracks and instruments himself – often on instruments borrowed for the purpose.
The music of All These Animals could best be described as alternative folk rock. Wilson sings with an interesting, individual intonation and an accent that sounds more English than American. His lyrics are poetry: timeless, cut-off, rough, thoughtfully moody. Wilson accompanies himself on acoustic guitar, and every now and then slips some electric guitar into the mix, briefly dissonant, sometimes competing with the other instruments, nonetheless acting to enlarge and strengthen the sound.
The nakedly arranged songs sometimes simply stop abruptly
The production is tastefully reduced, every accoutrement that suggests itself is denied. The nakedly arranged songs sometimes simply stop abruptly before even two minutes has passed, just as long as Wilson has said what he wanted to say.
Listening to the music one immediately thinks of the Meat Puppets and especially on my favourite track “Worms” of Marcy Playground.
But I could love you, I could
All I can say about the above mentioned piece is that with its sparseness and its uncertainty it touched me somewhere. The nastiness of the line, „Only child of some ghost singing every dead gets ate from worm“ is borne upon such a sweet melody that you let it in and sigh over its prettiness. The subsequent „But I could love you, I could“ comes then as a soothing moment of returning to the light.
Great things with minimal means
All These Animals, the band with a predilection for tragicomic album covers, manages to do great things with minimal means. The four songs here make you want more. Mr. Wilson: I wish you great success with your music, but if you achieve that success, just please: don’t then waste your money on a professional recording studio!
Review: Bastian Geiken
Noel Maurice is one of the founders of indieberlin. Originally from the UK via a childhood in Johannesburg, he has been resident in Berlin since 1991. Describing himself as a ‘recovering musician’, he is the author of The Berlin Diaires, a trilogy detailing the East Berlin art and squat scene of the early 90s, available on Amazon and through this site.