The Pendulums

Last week Mike and his band mates were up a tree, playing a strange instrument called a strumstick to an audience of tiny little horses...

Feature by Jasper Hamill | 12 Dec 2006
The lead singer of the Pendulums lives in a house surrounded by things that go bing, bong and bang. On the walls are swirling psychedelic posters for their gigs and happenings, featuring pirate ships afloat on a dark sea, squads of pie-eyed gnomes and grinning moons. Piled up are the masks they wear for their Halloween love-ins: huge badger and moon masks, a wizard hat, a pair of Orbital glasses with little lights. Finally, to complete the picture, the door to their close has a sign that reads 'Please don't let the little black cat out, no matter how much he begs or pays you.' In this wiggy place, the vibe is as much 1965 as it is 1565. And that's just Mike's house. Trombonist, drummer and Jew's Harpist John has moved out of the fire engine he used to occupy. He's now taken a room in a medieval tower in the middle of a turnip field, part of a commune near Fife. Their other singer, who has a passion for Baroque, is opera singing down in London.

The Skinny's access to the house is to get a feel for the Pendulums strange, delightful way of doing things. Rather than practicing in sterile studio spaces, they have adventures and then sing about them. Last week Mike and his band mates were up a tree, playing a strange instrument called a strumstick to an audience of tiny little horses. In case I didn't believe him, he gives me a blast of the song they improvised, called, fittingly enough, Tiny Little Horses. Except it's sung in Norwegian. They wrote the song 'Moon Mountain' after rushing down a mountain on a snowy day, reaching the bottom just as the moon emerged and all spontaneously launching into its refrain. Even better, their album, which is perhaps the most diverse, odd and exciting you're ever likely to hear from an unsigned band, was launched in a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. "We told all our friends to come and they had to take one train, walk half a mile, take another and then walk another mile. We put a disco ball up on a tree and danced under the stars" says Mike.

The stories and star gazing romanticism of The Pendulums are exciting enough. The music is even more so, incorporating neo-psychedelic organs, an array of instruments from Jew's Harps to trombones, a few operatic swandives and melodies that seem to be familiar from the deepest part of your psyche. They sound like the psych of the sixties, the electronica of the nineties and the baroque of the seventeenth century. Seemingly accidentally, The Pendulums, like their heroes Fairport Convention, have ended up - paraphrasing The Thirteenth Elevators - in a time of their own. Listen to the MySpace stuff for a taster: the parping weirdness of 'Brand New Song,' the strange whimsy of 'Green Hat.' You can even buy the self-released album, with its odd, magical cover art, in Monorail or Fopp. The Pendulums are the sort of band your parents would have danced naked to, your ancestors would have had orgies to, or your children would embrace as the sound of the future. They've started their own little time continuum on Woodland's Road. No mean feat we think.