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Micachu & The Shapes

No one can deny that the face of planet music is changing at a rate faster than ever before. Whether one believes that it's awkwardly evolving into a beguiling new beast, or imploding into a certain apocalypse, one thing's for sure: the soundtrack will be like nothing you've ever heard before. 21-year-old Mica Levi is the unassuming five foot one ... Read more in Amazon's Micachu Store

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Frequently Bought Together

Never + Jewellery + Chopped & Screwed
Price For All Three: £24.30

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Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Easy 1:49£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Never 1:37£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Waste 1:56£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Slick 2:48£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. OK 3:30£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Low Dogg 2:41£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Holiday 2:25£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Heaven 2:57£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. You Know 1:31£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen10. Glamour 1:18£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen11. Top Floor0:47£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen12. Fall 4:12£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen13. Nothing 4:56£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen14. Nowhere 2:36£0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Description

Product Description


BBC Review

“Love’s all around, yeah, but I don’t want none / Give me that nonsense sound and I’ll be back,” sang Mica Levi on her debut with The Shapes back in 2009, marking the arrival of an absurdist talent. Her confounding otherness shows no signs of abating on this second LP.

Among other strings to her bow – she recorded an album, Chopped & Screwed, with the London Sinfonietta last year – London-based Levi is perhaps the only pop star to claim playing the Hoover as one of her accomplishments. Sure enough, said appliance features in opening track Easy – although the effect is more like being stuck inside a washing machine.

If that sounds like your cup of tea, there’s plenty to enjoy here. Waste pairs skiffly acoustic guitar with stroppy bursts of noise and dubbed-out vocals. The strung-out Heaven sounds like no-one’s idea of its title, except perhaps Mica’s own.

At this point we need hardly add that The Shapes’ MO is something of an acquired taste. Their avant-garde sensibility is paired with an apparently punk-inspired, throwaway presentational style – five of these 14 tracks clock in at under two minutes – that will infuriate some.

But order from chaos is the thing, and when Mica whips her arsenal of whirrs and scrapes into twisted approximations of pop songs, the results are pretty wild. Holiday, for example, is a woozy, melodic gem seemingly relayed through a tin can telephone.

OK sounds like Gary Numan on the verge of a whitey. “Are you sure you’re OK?” asks bandmate Raisa Khan on the track. “Couldn’t be better,” slurs Mica, before Raisa replies, “If you’re not, you should say.” Perhaps you had to be there.

Nothing’s relatively unmessed-with doo wop provides the album’s sweetest moment, before Nowhere’s frantic kiss-off shoves us out the door before we’ve even had chance to suss what the hell’s going on.

Whether or not Never is a record you’ll want to revisit that often is a moot point, but its ability to hit like a spring-mounted boxing glove to your peripheral vision is hardly in doubt. File under ‘WTF’.

--Sid Smith

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
So much for the sophomore slump 17 Sept. 2012
By rob - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I'm old enough and jaded enough re: music that 99.9% of all new artists on the scene over the last 10+ years have bored the ever-living stuffing out of me. Not so with Micachu and the Shapes. Mica Levi and her gang have put out three records so far-- two studio records and an album of, of all things, live-performance chamber-orchestra arrangements-- and all of them are utterly fantastic.

I've heard a great deal of experimental music in my time, and I have heard a lot of totally inappropriate and misleading adjectives applied to MatS' music-- "atonal," even "Beefheartian." What attracts me most to Mica's music is its immediacy. On the studio records, the songs are all solid but fragmented and distilled pop structures of nearly-classic bent. She knows exactly what she's doing as a creator of great melodic fragments and upbeat rock/pop riffs. While most of her stuff reveals a distinct classic-new-wave influence, heck, a song like "Holiday" would have instantly attracted the likes of Phil Spector 50 years ago.

This is what makes Micachu's material so accessible despite the sonic claptrap. Unlike so many experimental musicians, she starts with a solid, intensely stripped-down melodic / harmonic foundation. The finished product is then reconstructed / deconstructed with all manner of noises both digital and organic. It reminds me a lot of Prince's most successful experiments with stripping down funk arrangements to their barest elements.

The main difference: In the case of a song like Prince's "Kiss," your mind is left to fill in all the arrangement's empty spaces, and that's exactly what makes it work so well. In the case of so many of Micachu's songs, your mind is occupied trying to figure out what the song was "supposed to sound like" in the face of an onslaught of resampling and treated noises taking the expected elements' place... that's exactly what makes *Micachu's* music work so well.

This is why Micachu has got it going on, and has become my favorite new artist by far in the last few years. She can write a song that the average layperson can immediately hang their hat on, then turns it into genuine art by drastically / deconstructively cutting up the sonic surface without damaging the song's all-important innards. Unlike so many experimental musicians, she also clearly knows the value of simple structure and motivic economy, and recognizes the dangers of self-absorption and/or taking oneself far too seriously.

_Never_ clearly took a great deal of time and effort to create, but you have to listen to it carefully with a knowledgable ear to recognize the amount of effort and risk entailed. It seems completely spontaneous, wonderfully casual, and filled with absolutely brilliant life and sonic invention from end to end. _Jewellery_ seems a little more spontaneous and adventurous, but what _Never_ (barely) gives up on those fronts, it makes up in terms of much more accomplished songwriting and more carefully-thought-out album sequencing.

My main complaints about this record are audiophile-nerd in nature. I have a sneaking suspicion that Mica mixed this record with laptop speakers and iPod docks in mind-- not a bad idea in 2012, but the way she's gone about it needlessly punishes those of us who have even marginally better listening setups. This record is virtually all midrange and treble from start to end, with the individual sonic elements distorted and/or compressed to the point of unrelenting harshness on a revealing set of speakers or phones. I'm aware that's part of the fun, but a little more dynamic range and a bit more kick downstairs would have mitigated the unforgiving sound on this record on a proper full-range system. Go for the CD or files over the vinyl; _Never_ virtually checks every last box for "things that the vinyl medium doesn't handle well at all".

The thin-and-overcompressed mix is a real shame, because I'd really like to properly experience all of the crazy digital detail and impact that is in this music. And I hope that the next record finds her finally getting over the plastic vocal chorus effect she's so fond of (over)using both on this album and on _Chopped and Screwed_. I know she's doing it to make things fit better with her everything's-got-to-be-just-a-little-out-of-tune aesthetic, but it's unfortunately the aural equivalent of ODing on Paxil.

This is a must-hear record, along with _Jewellery_. I also love _Chopped and Screwed_, but it's potentially a much more difficult listen for those who haven't already spent a lot of time in the world of contemporary chamber music. (Still, it's hard to pick between the versions of "Low Dogg" on _Never_ and _Chopped_. No matter which version you go with, it's probably my single favorite song of the century so far.)

One last dumb thought: The cover of _Never_ looks very similar to the cover of Meat Beat Manifesto's classic 1990 record _99%_. Although she was a tiny tot when that album came out, I see some significant similarities between MBM's golden-age work and what Mica has ended up doing. Have to wonder if the similarities in cover art were coincidental. ...Probably.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Wild, Noisy, and Fun 24 July 2012
By T. A. Daniel - Published on
Micachu and the Shapes' second album, NEVER, feels like a sugar rush. That's not to say that it's full of empty calories though; instead, most of the music here borders on wide-eyed and manic. While the arrangements on this album are mostly percussive, it has a repetitive nature that recalls some of Animal Collective's go-for-broke experimental repetition. Mica Levi's band is much more accessible that Animal Collective though, and NEVER is filled with experimental ideas that, in the moment, never seem all that weird to begin with.

For fans who were worried by the band's live CHOPPED & SCREWED direction, NEVER settles any lingering doubts about the album's tone with its first track "Easy." While this opening track isn't indicative of the band's entire sound, it does give listeners the gist. It's a thrashing, noisey track that centers around repetitive noises and a sweet melody. The song lasts less than 2 minutes; With 14 tracks clocking in around 35 minutes, this album wastes very little time. NEVER's fourth track, "Slick," slows the band's music up while maintaining many of the band's hallmarks. The surf-rock deconstruction "Holiday" is filled with harmonies that sound like they were recorded in a closet. "Heaven" oozes with attitude, and its sneer is supplemented with Levi's deadpan vocal drones. "You Know" finds Levi's vocals looped, chopped, and interrupted by video-game sound effects. "The Fall" serves as the band's longest and slowest song on the album; its bluesy atmosphere feels submerged underwater. The album closes with "Nowhere," a song that finds the band at its most manic. It's choppy drums and wild guitar drive NEVER to its close, but it ends with an abrupt stop.

Many of these tracks do indeed feel like rough sketches -- like songs that were created as an experimental idea. Miraculously, Micachu Levi and the Shapes pull these songs off in a way that sounds like they are finished and complete. At NEVER's best, the album takes sounds and songs that are bizarre on closer inspection and pass them off for fun, wild pop songs. Fans of the band's previous JEWELLERY will find that much of what made the album so much fun is represented on NEVER in spades. I would recommend NEVER to fans of Beck's early stuff (MELLOW GOLD and STEREOPATHETIC SOULMANURE), Animal Collective, or tUnE-yArDs. Essential tracks for sample/download: "Waste," "Slick," and "Low Dogg." NEVER is wild and manic, but under its weirdness, it has plenty of hooks and catchy melodies to pass around.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Making a beautiful noise 25 July 2012
By mofolotopo - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Emphasis on the "noise"! Like all Micachu albums, this one is a whirlwind of detuned, modified, and flat-out broken instruments played with fervent abandon, and yet it still manages to be surprisingly accessible and fun. This isn't the kind of "noise" rock that shuts audiences out, this is the kind of noise that makes you want to drag the pots and pans out of your cabinet and play along, or at the very least dance around like a toddler.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
best record of 2012 27 Jan. 2013
By malco 49 - Published on
Format: Vinyl Verified Purchase
hard to believe that micachu with or with her shapes is not more well known.even harded to believe that this record did not make every best of list for 2012.can't wait to hear her next record.don't sleep on this folks.....the most compelling music being made today make no mistake about it.......
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Vinyl review - is it worth the premium price? 22 Sept. 2012
By charktorious - Published on
Format: Vinyl
I buy modern vinyl and have a budget but acceptable Technics vintage turntable, with a few carts. So I believe my setup, although not high-end, is at least acceptable enough to do a vinyl review. My four stars are strictly for the music itself, which I found enjoyable and unique enough to risk a vinyl purchase.

Cosmetics: 1LP release (no gatefold) with heavy stock inner sleeve with art on one side and lyrics on the other. Also a free digital download with my copy. Standard black vinyl.

Sonics: Here's the's audibly not too different from a lossy download imo, and on some tracks (ie. the first track) there's actually a "crackly" sound like the LP was cut too hot (and it wasn't my stylus). I also check spectrograms to see if a vinyl release is possibly 96khz sourced, and imo this LP was probably cut from a 44khz source. My cart (an AT440Mla) does have a tendency to be very detailed, so I'm guessing it's more the colorization of my cart than an actual difference between the CD and LP masterings themselves.

So even though the packaging is nice enough, imo I'm not convinced it's worth paying an extra $13+ (as of this writing) for the LP versus just buying the CD version.
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