Single Review: Elephant Room – Channel Cairo
(Laissez Faire Club Records) Released 29th August 2011
Reviewed by Guy Sangster Adams
Opening floatingly with a piano like sunlight crested waves, and harmonies that gently build the swell, the debut single by Channel Cairo, Elephant Room, quickly becomes a bracing walk along the beach of a seaside town, as layers of fascinating and atmospheric refrains, vocals, piano, guitars, and rhythms, fleetingly and enticingly reach one on the ebb and flow. Or perhaps the allusion is to AM radio waves and the fluctuations of reception and interference, creating a sonic collage. Either way, as all the disparate threads evocatively coalesce with complete and rousing clarity for the song’s epic, climactic crescendo, one is already hooked and on the strength of this refreshingly original single determined to stay tuned to Channel Cairo.
The intriguing multi-layering also extends to the band’s name and, in its evocative combination of kidnapping and hieroglyphs, brings an extra suggestion of a thriller or film noir title. Cairo is a city that has haunted lead singer and keyboard player, Josh Bowyer, since he was kidnapped there, albeit very briefly, at the age of nine. But it was only when he put together the band with old friends Hamish Murtagh (guitar), Joe Cross (bass), James Gardiner (drums), that he discovered that Gardiner’s great, great grandfather was the preeminent early – mid twentieth century Egyptologist, Sir Alan Gardiner, who in 1927 published the important work, Egyptian Grammar: Being an Introduction to the Study of Hieroglyphs. Whilst ‘channel’ is a reference to the Anglo-French line-up of the band, as a few weeks after the old friends got together they met a French guitarist, Luke Saunders, at an open-mic night and asked him to join the line-up.
The cover of the single includes the imprint of a letter written by Howard Carter to Sir Alan Gardiner, discussing the former’s discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Egypt. But don’t wait for the sands of time to settle before you unearth Channel Cairo… discover them now with this excellent debut single.