GEMS – ‘Medusa Uncut’

New extended version of the band’s standout track

By Yonatan Collier

The startling, woozy, cinematic ‘Medusa’ by Washington D.C.’s GEMS feels like a contender for being one of the songs of 2013. With GEMS such a new act it is this songs indication of their potential that is as exciting as anything else about it. They have signalled themselves as a band that we really need to pay attention to. For anyone who has been enjoying the track since it made its way online a couple of months back, the good news is that they have just released an epic six and a half minute version that you can download for free.

One of the great tragedies of the modern world is that the skill of editing seems to have been lost. In the good old days pop songs had to be under three minutes long to fit onto one side of a 78. Everybody sensibly stuck to this format until Bob Dylan ruined everything with ‘Like A Rolling Stone’. OK, ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ is unquestionably a classic, but it opened the door for a raft of boring musicians who, until this point had just about sustained everybody’s interest for three minutes, and now thought that they could keep us entertained for twice that long. They couldn’t (yes, prog rock I’m looking at you). The three-minute pop song is music’s gold standard; fit it into three minutes or don’t bother.

Unless, that is, you come up with something like ‘Medusa’. The new intro only serves to ramp the tension up and up, and the payoff when you finally reach the chorus is all the sweeter for it having taken you longer to get there. It is this chorus you feel, that is the key to what makes GEMS special. The textures are familiar; distorted post-dubstep bass, jangling guitars, echoing 80s handclaps, angelic vocals. Much of this has been done before, but rarely with such an ear for melody. In fact, the interplay between the ethereal haze of these production elements and the sharp focus of the melodies is a large part of what makes this track work. Clear six and a half minutes in your schedule and take a listen.

‘Medusa’ Uncut version:

Published December 8th, 2013

Yoni Collier is a music producer, composer and writer who has been signed by (and then fallen out with) too many record labels to mention. He now freelances as this keeps arguments with colleagues to a minimum. He has written music for TV and award winning short films, and has worked as a producer with numerous artists. He also teaches music production at Leeds Beckett University.