The first thing that must be mentioned is the name. Inspector Tapehead. A discussion about it amongst friends, before the gig, prompts a puzzled squinting of the eyes and perplexed responses of ‘Tape who?’
Tapehead. Yes. Despite this rather unsettling name, the music is anything but, with their songs comprised of an oddly enchanting mix of acoustic and electronica: subdued nylon-stringed guitar and bright dazzling synth, underlain with steady and easy-going percussion.
The band released their first album back in 2010, Duress Code, followed by a short tour. Since then they appeared to have retreated into musical wilderness, avoiding civilisation like you would the day after a heavy night out. However, it seems that over the years they have met up occasionally to work on fresh material, and slowly these unencumbered sounds have been refined into a complete new collection, So Solar. This seemingly relaxed approach, a five year gap between completing albums, is reflected in the mood of the latest songs and their laid-back resonance.
Before they take the stage, Ricky Fraser and The Great Bear warm the crowd up, both acts playing a variation of ambient acoustic material. It has to be said that the term ‘crowd’ might be generous, and it is a fairly quiet night, but the few dozen people that are present are obvious music fans and there is nobody there who might have wandered in for lack of something better to do. There is a palpable sense of musical appreciation that fills the room.
When Inspector Tapehead do finally make the stage, they immediately kick things into gear; big warm synths and triple vocal harmonies fill the belly with a warm euphoric buzz. The trio are tight sounding for having such an experimental style, with the only noticeable technical glitch being the sporadic malfunctioning of one of the spinning reels in the giant cassette tape that acts as their backdrop.
Pherenzik Tear, from Duress, proves to be one of their finest songs and is suitably played at the end of their set. There are other highlights too, one being Soldier Boy, the lead single from So Solar, which is a bright and listenable affair. According to a caption on their record label’s site about the composition of the song, it was written after band member Chris Chroasdale had a dream about playing a long forgotten song of his. After waking and realising that this song had never existed, he attempted to remember what he had played, with Soldier Boy being the result.
It is apt that their new lead single should be composed in such a way , because indeed, their entire ouevre sounds like it has been derived from a colourful dream.