London composer Cosmo Sheldrake channels beloved oddball songwriters on The Much Much How How and I | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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London composer Cosmo Sheldrake channels beloved oddball songwriters on The Much Much How How and I


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If you think the album title The Much Much How How and I is whimsical and amusing, you’ll probably love the fey, fabulous, and hokey music of its creator, London composer and multi-instrumentalist Cosmo Sheldrake. On his 2018 full-length debut, released by Transgressive Records, Sheldrake doesn’t quite attain the cracked genius of oddball predecessors such as Syd Barrett or Brian Wilson, but he never defaults to the worst excesses of Paul McCartney either. The songs are filled with hurdy-gurdy carousel rhythms and clever instrumentation; “Wriggle” opens playfully with frolicking woodwinds, which settle into a burping march as Sheldrake delivers Donovan-worthy doggerel. “Hey ho, where did you go? / Did you wriggle or roll? / Did you giggle or grumble through?” “Axolotl” could almost be a Beach Boys Love You outtake, with a slow galumphing frog beat that’s delightfully mismatched with the ravishing background harmonies—it sounds like trying to “squeeze a right-hand foot into a left-hand shoe,” as Sheldrake sings. Most interesting, though, is “Mind of Rocks,” a collaboration with British vocal-loop artist Bunty, which drifts into shoegazey dream pop while maintaining Sheldrake’s signature sound. It’s an encouraging indication that his willful eccentricities might lumber and flop into less categorizable weirdness at some point in the future.   v

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