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Single Stream: The Grubby Mitts- ‘To a Friend’s House’

We’re all aware that high art can commonly disappear up its own arse. The technically staggering but unnecessarily weighty tome that is Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’, the ‘what the fuck’ factor of Tracy Emin’s ‘My Bed’, the abrasiveness  (and sheer wealth) of Merzbow’s noise compositions.

On paper, the music of The Grubby Mitts might sound like it’s destined for the pretentious artiste’s wank bank; the band describe their sound as ‘“assembled from scraps and fragments of melody, as if remembered from the night before or heard floating down from a window and taken up as a hum by someone passing by on the street below”, and they experiment live with “elaborate multi-media performances”.

But don’t let such jargon put you off for a second. The Grubby Mitts are amazing. Instead of the aforementioned coinages, it could instead be said that they experiment with free form compositions.Repetition is used heavily. Rather than opting for verse/chorus structures, the band tend to use linear soundscapes where different instruments and random sounds are gradually added in, so that the tracks grow and build organically. ‘Last Stop For The Good Old’ uses the sound recording of a spray can being shaken as the only percussive accompaniment to a poignant, swirling string arrangement.

Concerning their live performances, The Grubby Mitts compliment their instrumental output with projected visuals. They have taken their show to such unusual venues as Covent Garden’s Odeon cinema, the roof of the Hayward Gallery and the TATE. Well, the last venue is perhaps less surprising when it’s considered that the band is fronted by visual artist Andy Holden, who has recently had a solo exhibition at the TATE.

You can stream ‘To A Friend’s House’, the band’s first piece of music for widespread distribution (through Andy’s own Lost Toys Records) below, along with the B-side, a cover of The Beach Boys’ ‘God Only Knows’, performed on solo clarinet:

The Grubby Mitts- ‘To a Friend’s House’

-Tim Robins

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