Carmody | Sleep on Mirrors (Mannequin 2015)

Just in case we hadn’t spent enough time dreaming of Italian wave this year, here comes another Carmody reissue. The truth is that for lovers of the scene you can’t spend enough time praising it, and a lot of these bands appear to have found fresh ears (generationally, aesthetically, geographically…) for whom these records finally become the adored classics they deserve to be. After a year dedicated to Turin, what with the various Der Zeltweg and Musumeci reissues and reworks, Mannequin churns up another pearl in the first LP reissue of Carmody’s 1981-1985 works. Fans of the genre will recognise tracks from pretty much any recent Italian compilation, from Strut’s Mutazione to Mannequin’s own first Danza Meccanica, not to mention the various Spittle compilations of the past few years; indeed, the tracks here were also included on Anna Logue’s CD first reissue of Carmody’s tapes, A Better Spider, back in 2009. Maybe the secret to the enduring fascination that Carmody inspire is the fact that their tracks were dark, seductive, but also especially tender. This is stuff that stands perfectly on the edge between the lower echelons of metropolitan, noir atmospheres, and the softness of a very Italian, very tuneful melancholia – beautifully packaged and remastered here, and finally on glorious vinyl.

The secret to the enduring fascination that Carmody inspire is the fact that their tracks were dark and seductive, but also especially tender

The record is quite cunningly curated: it contains a progression, from the more playful, airy material to a darker, more nervous kind of substance, although always intensely and brilliantly melodic. The Brit-inspired synth of ‘Messengers of Love’ and the broody air of ‘Most of You’, with its infantile melodies and thin beats give way to a side A full of the lighter side of Carmody: twinkling sounds over and clean, long synthlines, a backbone of constant and classically darkwave bass huffing in the background. Though ‘P.S.A.L.M’ and ‘Ambiguos’ have probably gathered more compilation fame, the far more theatrical yet terribly sparse quasi-tangoesque wave of ‘As We Down’ also provides a lot of enjoyment here, performed with a dash of humour, an air of dreamy wit.

On side B, things get more adult, and more comfortable with trying different routes, different aesthetics and sonorities. ‘Space Invaders’ is reminiscent of more humorous, glitzy stuff (à la N.O.I.A, say) and ‘Long Breath’ and ‘Bones’ mess with the form of the Italian wave classic. ‘Bones’ is the track to pay renewed attention to, with a quasi-experimental finale (it sounds like someone pressing numbers on a phone) which supplies one of the finest minutes on the whole record. On ‘Time’s Under’ and ‘Sleep on Mirrors’ things get darker, warmer, more complex, and they’re probably the most magnificent tracks on the record – here we move towards darkwave sonorities, closer to other Turinese outfits such as Deafear or Suicide Dada (with which the members of Carmody also collaborated). Carmody leave us in 1985 just at the beginning of a sunset, and here we listen to the journey to that sunset. The sunset, of course, will hide a new night, a new light, and will prove a satisfying listen for anyone in love with the heartwrenching shores of new wave.

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