The Pygmy Tribe began in 2012 because of one songwriter’s love for the natural and restrained instrumentation present without folk music, but he also captures essences of a numerous and eclectic range of genres whilst expressing himself through a powerful and emotive sound. Of course, the ethereal atmospheres and swooping instrumentals were intended only as a background to powerful lyrics and vocals, according to the band’s own words.
It was a solo effort for a few years, but, since then, the band has grown. It now consists of Daniel Lyter (drummer), Jon Westbrook (lead guitarist), Cesar Pino (piano) Geoff Hardy (bassist) and Sal Plant (lead singer/acoustic guitarist). They plan to tour this very same year, and I am looking forward to that.
The Pygmy Tribe’s latest eight-track EP entitled Portraits opens with “When Will I Wake Up?” An ominous synth chord warbles continuously as the vocalist murmurs “My love / You saying something / It sounds nothing I ever wanna hear.” Instantly, I’m taken aback by the entirely unique sound of the vocals.
While initially I thought the singing might not gel well with my taste, I was won over as the song progressed and the vocalist’s soothing tones blended with a pumped up beat and a mellow, melodic acoustic chord progression. He begins to harmonize with himself, and the unique vocals suddenly sound completely at home. While this was the most notable part of the track, for me, the organ solo towards the end is also worthy of praise.
I think “Open Boat” is a beautiful track, and I knew that within seconds of the rainfall sample merging with a sleek, melancholic, acoustic guitar-picking pattern. Again, the vocalist adds something to the track with his husky, melodic, yet entirely unique singing style.
The combination of acoustic and clean guitar over a clicking, clacking drum beat creates a beautiful atmosphere. A surf-rock-esque guitar solo joins sweeping synthetic strings following a particularly emotive and powerful chorus. There are many layers going on in this track, but not chaotically so.
“You Were Right” is almost entirely acoustic, joined by an occasional spattering of ethereal organ notes and, of course, the vocalist’s swooping, powerful singing. It contains a few more moments of organ solos and other such sonic flourishes, though nothing particularly unexpected as with the previous tracks.
“Amazing Pictures” sounds like the lovechild of Radiohead and The Doors. It’s an acoustic track laden with punchy, concise drumming and a dissonant acoustic guitar-picking pattern. The vocalist, once again, harmonizes with multi-layered vocals. His soothing, yet husky voice carries this melancholic, nostalgic and heart-breaking track forward.
This was an unexpectedly punchy, clear and intimate track, using The Pygmy Tribe’s strengths in a brand new way. It focuses more on clarity and intimacy than the vagueness of ethereal sounds. The two vocal tracks singing different things in the climax blended perfectly, and this was certainly a highlight of the EP.
You can certainly pick out the strengths of The Pygmy Tribe, which seem to lie in their ability to create soothing, ethereal and entirely unique music. This is well worth a listen.
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