Approved 2016: Anna Meredith
By Andy Malt | Published on Wednesday 14 December 2016
Every day this week in the CMU Approved slot, we’ll be looking at one of our five favourite artists of 2016. Today, Anna Meredith.
Anna Meredith first caught our attention back in 2012. This year, she finally released her debut album ‘Varmints’, a record that continues to surprise and enthral with each listen even after nine months of me playing it to death.
Already a well regarded classical composer, Meredith’s move into the pop territory came out of a desire to break out of the constraints of classical music. “I don’t want to write music that people are enduring just to get to the Elgar in the second half”, she told The Guardian earlier this year.
Her coming to mainstream music from such a different direction than is the norm is in no small part what makes her music so interesting. Much of ‘Varmints’ didn’t make sense to me until I saw it performed live. Being able to see the physical arrangement of instruments felt like flicking a switch. When I was a teenager, having a second guitarist was considered a bit ‘out there’ for a band. With a cellist and tuba player in place of a bassist, it feels like there are no rules now.
The construction of the music also has a different feel to that of your average indie band. “Pacing is a physical thing”, she said, after winning the Scottish Album Of The Year Award in June. “I can feel when stuff has to happen in a track”.
“I knew I wanted ‘Varmints’ to end privately but start confidently, have moments of privacy and moments of power and build” she added. “I love writing a build – my friends talk about ‘the Meredith Build’! I love the feeling of ‘get on board, we’re building up now!’ Even if you’re dancing at a club, there’s an amazing transparency to a build. When somebody is creating anticipation, it’s a very communal experience and I don’t like hiding those structures”.
That technique, and its affect on an audience, was particularly apparent when she performed at her label Moshi Moshi’s excellent By The Sea festival in October. Each new build in a track felt like a wave, bringing in an ever larger crowd of people seemingly new to her music for the most part.
Closing with the euphoric ‘The Vapours’, it felt like witnessing an important moment in her career – certainly there was more discussion of what people had just seen after her set than for any other I remember over that weekend.
Anticipation for an album, especially several years worth of anticipation, can be the death of it when it finally arrives. But with ‘Varmints’ and her performances over the course of this year, Anna Meredith has maintained and built upon the excitement of hearing her music for the first time.
Watch the video for ‘The Vapours’ here:
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