What happens when a band steer clear of scenes, immerse themselves in strange pursuits and generally behave in a way that's completely opposite to everything else? Why, they display all the signs of individuality and for 3epkano, nowhere is this clearer than the refrains of their new, second album Hans The Reluctant Wolf Juggler.
With seven members, varied textures abound - tempered purcussion, rich keys and organs, woodsy strings, bright sharp brass, bass that causes torsos to tremble. There are male/female tones of guitar and cello, electronic clicks, loops and purrs. Balance is the key factor and 'Hans' shows a fine-tuned equilibrium between melody and rhythm, with just enough unpredictable heaviness to hone a sharp edge.
After the warm welcome of 'Cat Strings' draws itself up to an impressive height, other melody-centric numbers follow; “EP Ross' is atmospheric and slow-paced, while 'Fireworks' compells with a breathtaking flourish of strings that seem to sing. As keen film fans (reknowned for live accompaniment to silent movies, performances which have taken place in galleries, museums and parks), it's easy to say there's a cinematic scope to 3epkano and 'Calihari' possesses a poignance that would be snapped up a keen-earned documentary maker who wanted to mark the transience of time. 'Riverbank' seems to perfectly pinpoint a moment of darkest-before-dawn, desperate sadness.
'Not Now Steve' opens with a probing electronic tickle before the guitar and bass put their dukes up as the watchful referee circles on drums.?Finest moment comes at track 6 and 'Hax On, Hax Off': strings tremble as the bass rumbles omniously like approaching thunder. It sounds slightly like those other eminent instrumentalists Halfset, until the stormy lashes of guitar rain down. It also shows a sense of humour, given that the title is a play on Mr Miyagi's “wax on, wax off” lesson in the cult 80s action movie The Karate Kid. 'Colonel Mustard' boasts a truly sublime melody of interwoven lines of bass, cello and violin that takes over two minutes to raise itself to full height before the last section of violin. A violin so sweet and pure that 3epkano must have known they couldn't just leave off there and so the grand finale, 'Sunrise For Sophie' hears the same violin reprised, set to ponderous plucks of bass and guitar, creating a sense of urgency that, tying up all the tiny themes within, seems to count down seconds to dawn over a new outpost in instrumental Irish music rather than simply the end to an album.