Gengahr are a band with three songs online. Three. Yet such is their talent that from these musical gems, that they’ve managed to secure slots at all the major festivals this summer: Glasto, Leeds, Latitude and Green Man. PressPlay were granted an audience with Gengahr after their performance at Midi Festival on the French Riviera. With the festivaliers at Midi only gifted a 20 minute set, PressPlay set out to demystify the elusive quartet.
This London based band was formally known as RES, before other acts with the same name were discovered (a pretty great Philidelphia based singer who collaborates with Talib Kweli and a very shabby French rapper from Poitiers) promoting them adopt a new persona. For all you 90s kids, the meaning of the name is obvious. Gengar: that devilish Ghost Pokémon that evolved from Gastly and Haunter. Gengahr: the band created in its honour. The supernatural is a consistent theme within the band; they were even formed at Halloween. Their three songs on Soundcloud also have names which allude to horror: Fill My Gums With Blood, Dizzy Ghosts andShe’s A Witch. Yet, Gengahr’s sound is a peculiar mix of melancholy and optimism creating a vibe of sun-kissed sadness, which leaves you feeling uplifted, yet unnerved. There is something innocently tragic about the melange of Felix’s ethereal falsetto voice with the riffs of Hugh and John and the beats of Danny, which are reminiscent of summer breezes. Hugh and Danny do confess later on, whilst ever so slightly drunk (thanks Loyd the barman) that their musical guilty pleasure are 70s jazz-rock kings Steely Dan – a definite influence on their tropical, funk-infused sound. The overall result is a kind of William Blake fusion of Innocence and Experience.
It is clear that Gengahr’s sound is reflective of childhood. The boys met at high school, their name is a reference to a cult cartoon and they even enlisted 9 year old Nico to direct and write their video to Fill My Gums With Blood. Felix met Nico, who could recite whole episodes of Blackadder, when working at a summer camp. Evident that this kid had some kind of supernatural intelligence, Nico chose two of his friends to appear in the video depicting a “peculiar crime scene… with lots of surprises.”
According to Nico, Gengahr’s music is “quite good”. According to us, it’s brilliant. Yet frustratingly, for a band with so much promise, Gengahr give away very little. After all, they only formed in October 2013, with their first demos uploaded a month later. Although they promise that they’re “working towards an album”, PressPlay can hope only that Gengahr deliver – and fast — for the sake our musical sanity.