Words: Wesley Freeman-Smith. Images: Stolen shamelessly.
Chances are, if you are one of the 7 or so people (including myself) who’ll be reading this, you’ll have two things going on. One will be a sadness that bleep-folk lo-fi duo Moustache of Insanity are to be no more, the other will be to wonder why I’m writing about it so. Which is a pretty reasonable question; a more fitting tribute would be less formal, more colourful, and probably involve 8-bit graphics. In fact I should probably warn you, apart from a small section where I’ll write in purple, there will be little of that here. This is the internet – you can find all those things in abundance if you only look for them. Stop complaining.
Aside from being a great, fun, lovably flawed little unit, M.o.I. hold a pretty special place in my heart as they were the first band I saw with my girlfriend, supporting Allo Darlin. What a great introduction! For want of any obvious romantic leanings, M.o.I. kind of got adopted as ‘our band’ – not in a creepy fandom kind of way, but in a cute in-joke kind of way. Hopefully this won’t alarm the real people behind the music too much. So I guess I’m writing for personal reasons. And the reason why I’m writing and not doing something more fitting, like cultivating mournful facial topiary or indulging in expressive dance, is because I can. So that’s my existence justified for at least another few paragraphs. Still reading? Then I’ll begin.
These guys calling it a day is not the end of the world, but it does shut off a significant little light in the twee-pop pantheon, and the cuter corners of the internet will be a much drearier place for it. Carrying the torch for lo-fi DIY recording artists everywhere, Moustache of Insanity created really infectious and fun pop songs, and at every level seemed to lavish a ‘fuck it’ inventiveness into the transmission of their music. In the industry’s current climate, there’s something wonderful about any band whose work preserves the specialness of the physical object in music. Whether it’s in their retro tape EP, the free blood-red teabags, or the 80’s horror lines hand-painted on each vinyl sleeve, these guys gave each release the full benefit of their imaginations. In an age where most of the media that makes life valuable is being rendered digital and insubstantial, anyone working the old fashioned way to create personal, unique, genuine things gets a whole car-full of awesome points. This is the DIY ethic harnessed for play not politics; any serious-minded philosophising feels very far from view.
This feeling runs through their music, too; all but their latest release, the full length Album of Death, had a satisfyingly home-recorded feel to it. Composed of just Nik and Bill (vocals/keys and acoustic guitar respectively), the songs are endearingly played “shambolic pop music” - captivating, innocuous and twee. One can imagine them playing their most successful sets at fancy-dress tea parties, comic conventions, or quirky independent café’s full of old friends. Across all their home-released tapes and CDs, the songs cover many geeky/awesome subjects playfully, investing them with commonplace observations. They also maintain sincerity and heart, too. Take 16,000km for example, a love-sick casio-ballad: “And even though it’s all now down to me / I’m having problems picking a single DVD / Even if they’re good it’s just not the same / When my baby’s 16,000km away”, following throughout by Bill’s mournfully buoyant “Boom, Ba-Boom” backing vocals.
Other songs delve deep into a variety of esoteric subjects, all with a flair for the gleefully nerdy; sending postcards to strangers, understanding self through one’s Amazon wishlist, the pains of not being cool (Fashion Tips from the Not So Recently Deceased), the unmatched greatness of 80’s movies (most songs on Album of Death), and getting a souvenir from a hero (“Jad Fair drew me a duck / Not just any duck / It was fucking awesome Jad Fair duck”).
The point of this band was never to be a serious endeavor but for it’s 2 members to have fun, and it’s in this very simplicity of purpose the band succeed and connect with their audience. If you’re late to the party, perhaps now you’ll never know; but whether you’re curious, already a convert, or just really angry about everything in this article, you’d be well advised to check out their final show for one last hurrah. Thanks for all the awesomeness guys, a good luck in what you do next! Hopefully see your reanimated corpses playing sometime again in the not-to-distant future…
Moustache of Insanity play their final show on 16th March at the Singapora Lounge, Rochester.
PS – Sorry for lying about the purple writing. Hope you’ve had a nice time regardless.