Is it possible to be too sugary, too saccharine? Certainly not on this evidence. After the initial overload of sweetness, the subtle layers reveal themselves, rich yet smooth. Finally when close to the end youre lost, lulled into an almost meditative state, a final burst of golden goodness hits sending the senses tingling. Say what you like about the music at Puregroove, but their Chocolate caramel shortbread is unbelievable.
At 2 quid 50p with a cup of tea, the transformation of Puregroove from a wonderful record store in unfashionable Archway to a Farringdon coffee shop, venue, record store and general hang out goes from strength to strength. Free instore gigs from the shops most tipped bands were always a PG speciality, but in its more central location by 1.30 the store is bustling with a mixture of students, music lovers and workers on their lunch break.

As lunchtime freebies go Musée Mécanique are a delight, serving up a beguiling mix of lush gentle folk pop, all laced with an air of nostalgia for the past, and perhaps the soon to be passed. Slimmed down to a 3 piece for this European jaunt, the lack of drummer and bass player doesn’t hamper their intricate sound. On either side of the singer an array of instruments, some seemingly homemade are strewn across two desks, with band members switching places at will. The clutter is added to by their decision to deconstruct the drum kit so upfront the singer operates the bass drum with his foot, the keyboard players toe flicks the high-hat, and stage left a spare tambourine is tied to a pedal under the desk of the guy with a melodica in his mouth.

Five years ago the core of the band moved to Portland, Oregon with a plan to write some songs. The resulting “Hold This Ghost” LP first emerged in late 2008 garnering praise from influential sites like Pitchfork. Theres a hint of pre Mr’s Robinson Simon & Garfunkel about some of the tunes although I dont recall Paul Simon playing a wood saw as vocalist Micah Rabwin does for their opening number.

As befitting a band named after a museum containing 200 coin-operated mechanical musical instruments and antique arcade machines the Musée sound is often wonderfully intricate.  Trinkets, xylophones, and ancient musical boxes layer upon each other momentarily transforming a sparse record store into a sepia tinged funfair. The audience listening while spinning on candycane stemmed horses from old merrygorounds .  It’s impossible to listen to “Our Changing Skins” without imagining a crackly old film containing some distant childhood memory played out in slo-motion.

They are equally effective when keeping it simple, “The Things That I Know”  begins with only a lovely plucked guitar line and Micah Rabwin’s sweet soft voice.  Its unusual to hear live music without the hum of people nattering at the bar but here there’s complete silence bar a clear guitar and voice. Exquisite.

Before making their exit the band reveal that their German record label thought it would be funny to book a big bright yellow 9 seater van for the tour. With only 3 members rattling around in it the band enquire if anyone fancies a trip to Brussels tomorrow? While I’d love to hear the album in full, I hear they do rotten caramel shortbread.

Musée Mécanique – Facebook / Twitter / Myspace

Listen: Musée Mécanique – The Things That I Know” (MP3)
[audio:http://www.musiclikedirt.com/wp-content/MP3/1047/TheThingsThatIKnow.mp3]

Buy: Musée Mécanique – “Hold This Ghost”

HibOO d’Live : Musee Mecanique “Things that I know” from Le-HibOO.com on Vimeo.