Musical Meowing


January 2013

Uncommon Time: Fifteen

Dutch Uncles – Fester (2012)

It was hearing Dutch Uncles playing this song live at their recent album launch (Rough Trade in-store gigs – a great idea!) that gave me the idea for the Uncommon Time ‘column’. They don’t seem to have any fear of ambitious compositions or time signatures but also have a great ear for a funky riff, with a very accessible sound overall. As an ‘up and coming’ trend in music I’m all for it! The singing is a bit of an acquired taste (for me, anyway, but I am quite picky about vocalists) but everything else is hard to fault.

This track basically breaks down as three bars of 4 then one of 3 and that final missing beat is so cleverly dropped from the phrase – it’s really satisfying when you work it out and predict its (non-)arrival, but it also sounds great, too!


Uncommon Time: Thirteen?


I need a bit of help here. I can’t think of any songs in thirteen time (let alone any good ones!) – any suggestions? Reply below! Meanwhile, I’ll keep racking my brain…

Uncommon Time: Three

Röyksopp – Happy Birthday (2008)

Something a bit more light-hearted! Just in case you’re a bit tired of the usual Happy Birthday song, here’s an alternative from Röyksopp that does away with the melody but keeps the original’s 3/4 time signature, turning it into a Nordic house groove. A bit throw-away (they released it as a stand-alone free download) but good fun, and nice to hear trancey-house in 3/4!

Uncommon Time: Five

Vessels – Ornafives (2011)

It was somewhat inevitable that I would have to resort to scouring my collection of progressive / post rock for examples of uncommon time signatures. However, it is a nice opportunity to showcase some of the excellent stuff out there in these oft-maligned / little-known genres. This is a fantastic example of 5/4 where the groove is so good that it just seems perfectly natural. Vessels haven’t broken the ‘big time’ yet but this highly talented band deserve greater attention.

Uncommon Time: Seven

Broken Social Scene – 7/4 (Shoreline) (2005)

A fellow blogger reminded me of this one – handily titled with the time signature, too! What a great riff and I just love the drums in this song – uncommon time used to exhilarating effect!

Uncommon Time: Eleven

Spooky – Lowest Common Denominator (1996)

After Monday’s Plaid track seemed to kill interest in this series (getting one only view! Far less than that track deserves!), I’m treading on risky ground by delving even deeper into obscure electronica – however,  I have to stand by the excellence of this track, giving me a great chance to include the rare 11/4 time signature.

Introduced to me, along with many other groups, by a very good friend at school, Spooky‘s output in the mid-90s includes some of my favourite pieces of electronica/techno ever (for the record: Stereo, Oblong, Falx and, of course, today’s feature). Lowest Common Denominator, from their 1996 album Found Sound, is purely sampled pianos, piling on top of each other with Reich-ian effect.

Uncommon Time: Five

Plaid – Missing (2011)

The opening track from Plaid‘s 2011 album Scintilli, this is flat-out GORGEOUS. I defy you to think otherwise!

(Oh, and it’s in five-time, too!)

Uncommon Time: Three

Mogwai – Travel Is Dangerous (2006)

Now, obviously three-time isn’t that uncommon but I’m going to include this one for two reasons – firstly it’s one of my favourite Mogwai tracks and secondly this is a very fast three (so I’ll call it 3/8 rather than 3/4), combined into irregular blocks (not just a 4 bar repeat). Great stuff!

Uncommon Time: Seven

So, to kick off the Uncommon Time theme, here we have a lovely example of seven-time (I’m going to call it 7/4) from Animal Collective:

Animal Collective – What Would I Want? Sky (2009)

From their Fall Be Kind EP, released late in 2009. You have to excuse about three minutes of waffley intro before the song gets going properly – be patient!

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