Lost Map Records have steadily marched on throughout the coronavirus pandemic, their releases regularly providing a blissful escapist soundtrack. Johnny Lynch has a knack for spotting bands that create comfort blankets of sound. Enter their latest signing Koppies with their self-titled debut EP. The South African/UK five piece are no newcomers. Matthew Van der Want and Chris Letcher are solo artists in their own right, as well as making up the duo Van der Want/Letcher. Victoria Hume, a Johannesburg based Brit is also a solo artist in her own right. Bassist Andrew Joseph and drummer Nicholas Bjorkman complete the five piece.
Koppies transport us immediately into a dream world on the gorgeous “Clouds”.
Drawn out, jazzy piano chords and lightly swelling strings ease us in to a song so delicate you could crush it with a feather. The vocal harmonies and stark minimalism of the musicianship create a Low-like atmosphere (also akin to label mates Firestations). It’s quite stunningly beautiful.
“Come Back” revolves around simple, lightly distorted stabbed piano chords and shimmering vibe synths. The drums rumble and skitter in and out, recalling early 2000s Fat Cat bands like Mùm and Adem. Hume takes centre stage on the literal “Hospital Song”. An account of visiting her mother in hospital and taking in scenery from her teens. The unsettling piano arpeggios relentless throughout transport us into Hume’s car as she travels back and forth.
The subtlety up until this point means “President” really stands out.
A fizzing Mogwai-esque instrumental full of swaying guitars and snare roll heavy drums backs the impassioned vocal performance. At 2 minutes 50 seconds it feels like there is time for the song to really take off but, instead, it inexplicably drops out.
The bluesy folk of “Time’s Up”, however, really lets go. Bursting into an Arcade Fire chorus before a touch of Jonny Greenwood gonzoid guitar scuzz. “Lightning” is one last splash of sun soaked sweetness. Hume’s soothing vocal, more of that hypnotic piano and subtly playful bass combine, backed by Bjorkman’s solid drumming.
There are enough subtle variations within ‘Cloud’ EP that suggest Koppies could veer off into several directions. The ambience, hints of guitar noise, subtly intricate drumming, touch of post rock and fantastic melodic sensibility provide a perfect launch pad for the band to seek new ground. A fine and sophisticated debut release.
You may enjoy this if you like: Low, Yo La Tengo, Arcade Fire, Firestations