Archive for July, 2017

American artist and performer Jarboe and Italian occult duo Father Murphy will be touring together Europe this Autumn, promoting a collaborative EP out September 22nd on Consouling Sounds.

Jarboe and Father Murphy’s connection runs deep. Jarboe continues to have a profound influence on Father Murphy’s musical path, and there is a strong, mutual understanding of what they define as a "sense of guilt", rooted in their Catholic upbringing, which informs their music, both together and independently. Approaching the EP, both Jarboe and Father Murphy each wrote a song, which they exchanged for the other to finalise, the result being a rich reflection of the spirit of both artists, and their meaningful bond. The Jarboe & Father Murphy EP was mastered by an infamous engineer, Davide Cristiani at Bombanella soundscapes studio in Italy, using a technique he calls "anti-mastering" whereby he irradiates the analogue master with deep, pure 432hz sounds in a process that somehow gives the master the same benefits than a defragmentation does to a hard disk. It works the sounds together in harmony, the result being much brighter and more real, which is very befitting to the release.

Father Murphy shall open with the rituality of their alluring live performance, followed by a haunting set that combines Jarboe’s unique voice and Father Murphy’s charmed sounds, together they shall draw upon Jarboe’s old and new songs, including the two brand new pieces from the EP. Full dates below…

LIVE DATES:

September

22 BE, Eeklo – N9

23 DE, Krefeld – Südbahnhof

24 DE, Berlin – Quasimodo

26 CZ, Brno – Kabinet Muz

27 CZ, Soulkostel – Soulkostel

28 PL, Poznan, LAS

29 PL, Torun – Klub NRD

30 PL, Gdansk – Smoke Over Dock II Festival at B90

October

1 PL, Warsaw – Distorted festival at Klub Hydrozagadka

2 PL, Lodz – Dom

4 LT, Riga – Gertrude Street Theater

5 RU, Moscow – 16 Tons

7 RU, St Petersburg – Place

10 SWE, Stockholm – Kraken

11 SWE, Karlstad – Tinvallakyrkan

12 NO, MOSS – House of Foundation

13 SWE, Gothenburg – Culture Night Festival at Goteborg Public Library

14 DK, Aarhus – Tape

16 CH, Basel – Unternehmen Mitte (Safe)

17 CH, Geneve – Cave 12

18 IT, Pistoia – Bruma Vol.III

19 CH, Busto Arsizio – Circolo Gagarin

20 FR, Lyon – Sonic

21 FR, Paris – Instants Chavirés

23 UK, London – St. Pancras Old church

24 UK, Leicester – The Musician

25 UK, Glasgow – Cottiers Church

26 UK, Preston – The Continental

28 BE, Bruxelles – Magasin 4

29 NL, Utrecht – Tivolivredenburg

November

2 PT, Lisbon – ZDB

3 PT, Porto – Understage

Crónica – CRÓNICA 126-2017

Christopher Nosnibor

The title of the latest album by the super-prolific experimental composer and student of film and musique concrete, Emmanuel Mieville, comes from the Japanese translation of the Sanskrit word and alludes to a chapter of the Lotus Sutra, a renowned text from Māhāyana Buddhism. Apparently. It’s hardly my field of expertise. And so the inevitable question arises: what’s my point of entry?

Juryo is by no means an accessible album and its four longform tracks, which span between nine and eighteen minutes don’t readily lend themselves to lengthy debates about Buddhism and the path to enlightenment. Similarly, that the album consists of four compositions shows no obvious correlation with the twenty-eight chapters of the Lotus Sutra. As such, it’s fair to surmise that the allusion which connects the title to the contents is in largely an oblique one, beyond the fact that the album features field recordings captured in Asia.

This is swampy, abstract, murky noise. On the surface, it’s a formless conglomeration of noise, grating, grinding scrapes and bumps. Woozy rippling bubbles flit and floom over tidal waves of surging extranea, which may or may not be the swash of actual water rippling over rocks: it could equally be an aural illusion, or an intentional simulacrum.

Top-end whistles sustain for an eternity and aggravate not only the aural receptors but the mind on ‘Nyorai’, although in the mix are recordings of Tibetan nuns and FM radio from Hong Kong. These manifests as chants and clattering chimes and finger cymbals which emerge around the midpoint of the seventeen-minute sonic journey. According to the liner notes, ‘Murasaki’ means ‘purple’ in Japanese, but the spinning, swirling sonic discombobulations which eddy and swirl present a kaleidoscopic vista.

In the sleeve notes, Mieville explains that ‘Taisi Funeral’ (the fourth and final track) is a ‘recording of Buddhist chanting for a deceased person recorded in a small village in Taiwan, mingled with my own synthetic sounds. Tanit Astarté is a quotation from Antonin Artaud’s book Héliogabale and refers to the moon goddess, as described in Phoenician myths’. It’s certainly the most overtly musical and rhythmic of the four compositions, but as a rising surge of amorphous sound rises to wash away the voices and the rhythm peters out, it transforms to an altogether more ambient soundscape. Morever, while still linking back to the overarching theme of the Lotus Sutra, we can see that Meiville’s sphere of reference is considerably broader than may first appear.

Juryo is subtly complex and had both range and depth. It doesn’t readily conform to any one genre, but to lazily slot it into the broad space occupied by ‘experimental / avant-garde’ is to fail to recognise the spectrum of stylistic elements it incorporates.

Emmanuel Mieville – Juryo

If a musician’s creative output is intrinsically linked to the journey that brought them to that point then it is hardly surprising that Discolor Blind’s debut EP Long Vivid Dream is a mercurial blend of flavours and genres. The journey taken by frontman Askhan Malayeri has been one that has taken him from his native Tehran to Cambridge and London and then across the Atlantic to Canada, where he established his own studio and began pulling together all of the ideas that would weave together as his first significant release.

The first single from the EP is ‘Black and Grey’, a song shot through with the melancholia and angst that crept in from the cold Canadian winters he now found himself acclimatising to. But it also sums up the myriad textures found on the record, a mix of chilled and measured washes, which are used as platforms for more intricate sounds from raw guitars and plaintive pianos to pop beats and even sultry jazz grooves.

It’s a subtle, moody song, and while we’re not huge fans of lyric videos as a thing here at AA, this one at least has some compelling visuals accompanying a truly magical tune. Watch it here:

Warren Records

Christopher Nosnibor

Lumer follow up ‘Futile’ (which we bloody loved, and which was picked up by BBC Introducing and a host of other tastemakers even more influential than Aural Aggro) with another serrated slice of dark, angular post-punk. ‘Gruel’ is propelled by a bulbous bassline drenched in chorus and flange and distilling the essence of 1983 as represented by bands like The Danse Society and Xmal Deutschland, but with a violent, rabid edge, and the gothy overtones collide with the manic art-rock of Bauhaus circa In the Flat Field as well as heavy hints of 90s grunge with some explosive, driving guitar and crashing drums. 

The lead guitars are fractal, echo-heavy, sinewy. The frenzied, menacing, and borderline psychotic vocals are mashed by effects. There’s a claustrophobic tension that’s almost suffocating and an energy that positively crackles.

Lumar are shaping up to be one of the most exciting new bands around, and ‘Gruel’ has set the bar for future releases. Check the video here:

Lumer are on tour in the coming weeks, too. Dates are as follows:

Thursday 20th July – Fuel Café, Manchester
Friday 21st July – Rough Trade, Nottingham
Saturday 22nd July – Shacklewell Arms, London
Sunday 23rd July – Tramlines Festival, Sheffield

Saturday 5th August – BBC Introducing Stage, Humberside Street Sesh

Tuesday 8th August – Huw Stephens presents at The Social, London

Lumer - Gruel

Christopher Nosnibor

For those who aren’t fans of extreme music, it’s often hard to see the appeal. ‘How can you listen to that, let alone enjoy it?’ is a common line of questioning. Often, the response can be boiled down to a single word: catharsis.

The one thing that always strikes me about events like these is just how friendly the atmosphere is. The fans are friendly and many, like me, seem shy and reserved – until they completely go mental in the moshpit. And it’s in this context that extreme music makes perfect sense. I may be nursing bruised ribs today after my quest for photos landed me in the line of danger but never once did I feel in any way threatened: it’s all freaks, outcasts and oddballs together in a safe environment.

What had initially been booked as a standard date on the UK leg of Full of Hell’s tour metamorphasised into an eleven-band extravaganza when circumstances dictated a change of promoter. And there wasn’t a weak act on the bill, and the first couple, Cheap Surgery and Hoof Glove both stood at the punkier end of the musical spectrum than the screaming metal end. It’s not so much that it was welcome to be eased in gently as a positive thing to be treated to some musical range: it’s not as if either was light or poppy, with Cheap Surgery evoking the spirit of bands like Penetration. Hoof Glove, meanwhile, are a band of two halves with a metal rhythm section onstage and an electronic noise duo at a table in front of it. Processed-to-fuck female vocals add a different shade of intensity to a grainy noise reminiscent in places of the abrasive angst of Xmal Deutchschland.

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Cheap Surgery                                               Hoof Glove

A close-cropped screamer in a Crass T-shirt leads the full-throttle attack of Hex, and it was midway through their confrontational, fiery set that the slam-dancing commenced, hinting at the shape of things to come.

Led by the Throat may look like four ordinary guys, but they’re the first band to bring the full-on snarling metal assault to proceedings, and they bring it from the first bar of their tight, powerful set. As he paces the stage, the singer emanates a malevolent energy that’s as powerful as his patterned shirt is tasteless.

I can’t remember when or where I last saw Groak, but I remember them being good, and this evening’s performance confirms my memory is correct. Singer / guitarist Ben Southern is wearing a Rudimentary Peni t-shirt and the band’s sludgy, dirgy churn is propelled – slowly – by Steve Myles’ crushing percussion (how many bands is this guy in?). This is music dredged from the pits of the lower regions of hell, and pretty much as intense as it gets. Or so you’d think. But it’s only 6:30 in the evening by the time they leave the stage, and we’re not even halfway through the lineup.

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Groak

Masters of Powerviolence Lugubrious Children, who released a spit EP with Groak last year are up next, and they’re punishing too. The trio bring the power and the pace, and the result is carnage.

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Lugubrious Children

It only gets better, and more intense, with Gets Worse. Very much a beards and long shorts band, they’re bristling additional strings, with a massively overdriven five-string bass bringing the low-end that grinds below a pair of seven-string guitars. And all of those stings are downtuned and sludged to the max. A single power chord sustains for a full minute before the juggernaut chug slams in. This is a full-on, balls-out racket that draws together the slow trudge of Godflesh and the tearing frenzy of Napalm Death to devastating effect.

Famine are one of those bands who just get better with every outing. Having seen them grow from a snotty two-piece into a thunderous, ferocious gut-ripping threesome who are tighter and more ferocious with every show. My notes from their set are sparse and only semi-legible, but in front of a home crowd, they’re assured and received the violently rapturous reception they deserved.

I’d been recommended Unyielding Love by a friend whose opinion I very much respect, and they didn’t disappoint, taking the snarling gnarliness to a whole other level. The seven-string guitar and five-string bass congeal into a thick glutinous sonic slime with optimum low-end. It’s driven by rapid-fire drumming that’s hard enough to crack any skull, and overlaid with brain-shredding electronic noise. Their relentlessly savage set can be perhaps defined as the sound of a goat’s skull being dragged underfoot about the stage echoing amidst a heavy organ drone, before processed reverby vocals erupt into a howling vortex of noise. And tat all actually happened, in real life.

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Unyielding Love

I’ve no idea who I saw performing a ‘secret set’ in the Meatlocker (the venue’s second stage, still draped with original plastic curtains because it was absolutely fucking heaving and I’d had a few beers by this point but they were intense and loud and brutal. But Full of Hell… Fucking hell. I’d run into Dylan Walker shortly before the set and was struck by just what an affable guy he was. On stage, of course, it’s another story: blasting ear-bleeding electronics and brutal vocals with a violent energy amidst a raging tempest of the harshest grindcore around, live shows don’t come more intensely visceral than this. How much of the set was lifted from the latest long-player, Trumpeting Ecstasy, I couldn’t say: I was too busy avoiding flailing feet and flying bodies, and clearly, the pain in my left side tells me I failed somewhere during the mayhem. But this…. THIS is catharsis.

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Full of Hell

I stopped to have my photo taken with some random strangers on my way out: they liked my hat. I may have drunk too much beer, but in the main, I was hitting the cool night air elated and exhilarated, and on a different plane from the one I had arrived on.

Anticipate Recordings – 17th March 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

The cover art gives little to nothing away, but at the same time, it’s perhaps a remarkably accurate representation of the blurring, blending overlays of contrasting tones and textures which define the ephemeral pieces which form the abstract picture which is A Passage of Concrete.

The album pitch details how A Passage of Concrete ‘ebbs and flows across an electroacoustic narrative of fragmented memory tethered to the present moment, unravelling movement, location, distance in a story that cares about place as both texture and emotional notation. Honig’s sense of place and the way he utilises it is disparate and varied, from field recordings made in busy streets, to parks and empty apartments, via high-ceilinged spaces. One might say that  Honig is preoccupied with both sonic and psychological reverberations and resonance, and that A Passage of Concrete represents the coalescence of these things.

Scratchy and distant shuffling scrapes, flickering, arrhythmic beats provide the backdrop to a sparse delicate acoustic strum on ‘Apartment Workshop’. Steady, pulsing beats pin down the extraneous sonic ripples and segments of ambient audio captured in bustling crowds, while ‘Forest of Refractions’ wraps droning organ undulations around a glitchy beat. The mellow keys which radiate dappled light on the two ‘Fugue State’ pieces are pleasant but innocuous, and while ‘dark’ notes resonate across bouncing beats over the album’s duration, it’s not easy to get a handle on. Yet for all that, it’s not an album which possesses the deep draw of emotional engagement.

While the album’s fourteen tracks, many of which are fragmentary, and a number of which are but sketches of around a minute in duration, are exercises in the vague and the transitional, the percussion, fluid as it is, provides a certain solidity to the compositions in structural terms. The effect is to give A Passage of Concrete a greater sense of tangibility than an album which is purely abstract and ambient. As such, its capacity to connect with and conjure from the listener’s memory is reduced. It lacks that essential, if evasive and indefinable quality of being haunting and evocative. Ezekiel Honig may be a master at conveying his own mental geography, but A Passage of Concrete lacks the abstraction required to render it universal. So where do you go?

On ‘A Slow Expansion,’ the classic evocation of nostalgia, the crackle of a worn vinyl groove fleetingly emerges. I can’t be drawn. The crackle track, the ultimate cliché of nostalgia, has become Vienna: it means nothing to me, and stands as nothing more than a signifier of ersatz nostalgia. It no longer holds any emotional resonance.

A Passage of Concrete is not a bad album by any means. In fact, it’s an extremely interesting album, but one that’s difficult to appreciate on anything but an artistic or musical level. Sonically, there’s no questioning the accomplishment of the material on display. But to measure the extent to which Honig succeeds in his goal is entirely subjective: what will resonate with one individual won’t touch another. But at its best, music transcends everything: sound transcends language and sound attains absolute universality. A Passage of Concrete fails to achieve this ultimate goal of connecting the listener’s psyche through abstraction, because it feels somehow prescriptive. Honig’s structures steer the listener in the direction of his headspace rather than providing a conduit for the listener to interact fully by exploring their own. The end result, then, is a pleasurable listening experience, but one which lacks the capacity for full immersion and to truly move the listener.

Ezekiel Honig - A Passage of Concrete

Hallow Ground – HG1703 – June 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

TAR is the fourth solo album by Tehran-based composer Siavash Amini, although he’s joined by Pouya Pour-Amin on electric double bass and Nima Aghiani on violin. Not that the individual instruments are readily recognisable in the thick sonic swirls which combine to forge the ever-shifting soundscapes of TAR at least in the main. But when Aghiani’s violin weeps and bleeds emotive from amidst the amorphous aural clouds which turn and taper, billowing and rolling, throbbing and pulsating.

‘A Dream’s Frozen Reflection’ begins droney but gentle, but inside the first two minutes breaks into a serrated sonic tempest. Music that sounds for all the world like a circular saw accompanied by a saw played more conventionally (does anyone play the saw any more? Or has it more or less gone the way of the comb and the washboard?) isn’t an easy sell, but Amini creates an intense aural experience that immerses the senses. But for all the harsh tones, there are contrasts in abundance, and through forging a shifting soundscape, the atmosphere changes, sometimes almost subliminally over the course of the piece.

‘Rivers of Tar’ plunges into murky, dark territory, but crystalline glissandos cascade through the eddying clouds of sulphur, while graceful strings rise and sweep expansively. It’s hard to determine whether or not it really carries an emotional resonance, but as a listening experience, it’s got more than enough range and features some passages which do have that vital drag.

At times, ‘The Dust We Breathe’ is barely there, delicate contrails of soft ambience washing in and out. There are periods dominated high-volume undulations of grating, snarling noise early on, but over the course of its fourteen-minute duration, the track drifts quietly and softly into the background.

It’s Amini’s ability to manoeuvre, effortlessly and almost untraceably, the trajectory of the four compositions from head-crushing abrasion to lulling calmness which is the greatest achievement of TAR. It’s an ambient album which carries a sting in the tail sharp enough to hurt, while equally massaging the mental receptors with its delicate tones.

The extent to which TAR translates Amini’s desire to explore ‘the fragile tensions between and individual and collective subconscious’ is largely irrelevant: TAR is an unexpectedly dynamic work, brimming with texture and contrast.

Siavash Amini – TAR

Ipecac Recordings – 4th August 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

According to the band’s biography, ‘Dead Cross emerged out of a series of impractical schemes, fallen-through plans, and last-minute musical experimentation. Shows were scheduled before a single song was written, fans were formed before even one show was played. The chaos of its creation seems apt; after all, the band is comprised entirely of artists who have thrived playing tightly-coiled turmoil—intelligent dissonance disguised as disorder.’ None of this is surprising, given the co-conspirators who make up Dead Cross – namely Dave Lombardo, Justin Pearson, Michael Crain, and Mike Patton. On paper, it’s a recipe for sonic mayhem. And that’s precisely what Dead Cross delivers.

It’s fast, furious and frenetic from the first bar. ‘Seizure and Desist’, recently unveiled as a video single, kicks it off in spectacularly explosive style and sets both the tempo and the tone. It’s a snarling, furious assault. It’s brutal and deranged, and yet it gloriously melodic, with a chorus and a hook that’s almost chartworthy.

Dead Cross is intense. Loud. Hard. Fast. Mental. Throw Faith No More, Pantera, Strapping Young Lad and The Wildhearts in a blender and you’re in the vicinity.

On one hand, this is a proper, old-school thrash album. On the other, it’s got Mike Patton all over it. Since forever, Patton has demonstrated a unique style and an even more unique sense of theatricality and melody. Unique, in that he’s able to incorporate these elements into the most incongruous and unexpected musical contexts, and successfully. Certainly, his immense vocal range and versatile delivery is a key factor, but there’s far more to Dead Cross – the band and the album – than once man. It’s all about the disparate parts and how they melt together to create something distinctly different. There’s no one dominant aspect here: this is a true collaboration, and all the more intensely insane because of it.

In the hands of pretty much any other band, thrash or other, the cover of ‘Bella Lugosi’s Dead’ would be both shit and pointless. But Dead Cross fill it with violent menace while retaining the finely-balanced drama of the original – and condense it all into two and a half minutes by pummelling it out at a hundred and fifty miles per hour and driving it along with a dirty, gritty as fuck bassline overlaid with heavily processed vocals. The end result is bloody brilliant.

Dead Cross is relentless and brutal. The shrieking venom of ‘Grave Slave’ is a grinding churn of guitars propelled by nonstop blastbeats. ‘Church of the Motherfuckers’ closes the album off with a throbbing chug, and, while slower, brings Patton’s capacity for flamboyant theatricality to the fore, while diminishing for fevered attack not one iota.

Often, I’m given to criticise so-called supergroup projects for failing to produce anything even as great, let alone greater than the sum of the parts. But it’s the fact that Dead Cross have produced an album that is precisely the sum of the parts which makes it such a belter.

Dead Cross Cover

Front & Follow – F&F046 – 1st September 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Having followed Mark Kluzek’s Doomed Bird of Providence for some time now, I was keen to hear the latest instalment. Over the last six years, he and his collaborators have produced a series of concept albums centred around Australian history, all using the medium of dark folk with heavy echoes of Nick Cave. Burrowed into the Soft Sky is very much an album devised as being suited to a vinyl release, and is perhaps the most challenging Doomed Bird release yet, consisting as it does of just two tracks each with a duration of some twenty minutes. While still pursuing what the bio refers to as ‘Kluzek’s obsessive and singular foray into early colonial history’, Burrowed into the Soft Sky discards the vocal element, meaning the narrative, such as it is, is purely musical.

To understand the objective and the context of the album and the individual tracks, it’s beneficial to quote liberally from the accompanying press release.

‘The underlying themes for each track are contrasting yet tie together via their historical context; a period where indigenous Australian belief systems and day-to-day lives were irrevocably assaulted. The song Burrowed into the Soft Sky is based on a passage from Patrick White’s novel Voss. The book is very loosely based on the final (and fatal) journey through the northern regions of Australia by German explorer Ludwig Leichardt. Kluzek took a passage from the book where a comet passes over and Voss, his team and a tribe of Australian Aboriginals engage with and interpret the experience until it is ‘burrowed into the soft sky’.’

How this manifests is in a piece which exits as a sequence of gradually-shifting transitions, sparse and haunting woodwind drifting across an urgent acoustic thrum, while percussion builds, and then draws back again. Around the mid-point it bursts into a sustained crescendo, with sweeping strings cascading over an insistent, energetic beat, but for the most part, it’s less about overt drama and more about the brooding. The closing segment is a dolorous fanfare, with nostalgia-evoking horns sounding out over a slow march that finally tapers to a twinkling glockenspiel that does evoke something approximating a soft sky.

Mark Kluzek- The Doomed Bird of Providence8

The press release provides the following explication for the track which occupies side B: ‘The Blood Dimmed Tide is Loosed takes a significantly darker turn shining a light on a pattern of atrocity that took place in the north east of Australia at a time where a dynamic of back and forth, invariably initiated by colonists, took place and culminating in a “dispersal” of a tribe, “by shooting them down – men, women and children, the object being to destroy as many as possible.” This is based on accounts of such events in the book Exclusion, exploitation and extermination: race relations in colonial Queensland (Raymond Evans, Kay Saunders, Kathryn Cronin). Attacks of this nature on tribes were commonplace.’

As indicated, the track immediately plunged into darker territory, uncomfortable, tense tones forging a claustrophobic atmosphere. Strings scrape like nails down a blackboard over ominous fear chords before a militaristic imperial march emerges from a tempest of percussion and screeding feedback. This in turn coalesces into a repetitious throb, imposing and intense, which bludgeons the listener’s senses as cymbals crash violently, and by the mid-point it’s collapsed into a wash of hums and drones, interrupted by clattering flickers and subterranean moans and skitters. The closing section again builds an oppressive mood, the thudding percussion partially submerged by a swell of ever-thickening noise.

A priori knowledge of the context is by no means essential to the appreciation of Burrowed into the Soft Sky. It does of course benefit the listener to have a sense of placement, but given that the correspondence between the tracks and their inspiration / meaning is far from obvious in any case, it’s an album which can readily be heard – if not necessarily ‘enjoyed’ – on its own merits. As a work which wanders through a number of instrumental musical territories, Burrowed into the Soft Sky is interesting and rewarding.

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Cleopatra Records / Practical Records – 23rd June 2017

Interdisciplinary artist Rachel Mason has spent the best part of the last two decades carving out her own niche from within the hotbed of the NYC and LA scenes, with music being only one of the many strands of her creative explorations. In between making films, sculptures, and creating performance art pieces which range from the playful to the weird, she’s released quite a lot of albums. Her latest, Das Ram, is billed as ‘a full-blown modern pop-rock album of catchy songs with flamboyant flavor, dramatic vocals in between Siouxsie Sioux and SIA, captivating melodies and poignant lyrics’.

It’s not easy to focus on the lyrics, poignant or otherwise, when there’s so much going on. Das Ram is an album that’s very much geared toward delivering songs with groove and big energy. ‘Rosie’ kicks off with a delicate shoegazey pop verse that blossoms into a glorious chorus propelled by a super-frenetic drum machine with hectic hi-hats and a glistening, glittering energy shimmers.

Rachel Mason 2 - credit Kerwin Williamson

Das Ram is an eclectic set, and wildly varied. The dramatic orchestral strikes which jut and jar through ‘Heart Explodes’ provide a dramatic landscape for Mason to prowl through en route to a soaring chorus which indicates what Florence and the Machine could sound like if Flo Welch and her crew had any grasp on subtlety.

Single cut ‘Tigers in the Dark’ is a flamboyant gothic-hued disco cut that pulls together the danger of Siouxsie with the brooding electropop sensibilities of Ladytron or Goldfrapp. ‘Marry Me’ goes all Disintegration-era Cure in the mid-section, but Mason’s vaguely shrill and increasingly desperate-sounding imploring to form marital unity (part Kate Bush, part PJ Harvey) is actually quite scary. You’d probably agree just to avert the danger of being strangled in your sleep, although it would only be a temporary postponement).

‘Cancer’ is a wild, woozy ride, a blizzard of wibbling electronica and car horns and stammering programmed drum ‘n’ bass percussion providing the sonic terrain for lyrics that veer from the abrasive to the abstract. ‘The end stage is on!’ she squeals as a refrain before a gritty, funk-infused bass cuts in half way through.

Das Ram is good. Really good. It’s a pop album, and one which will evoke myriad comparisons. And it’ll touch them all favourably, because Rachel Mason assimilates her influences in a way which isn’t merely derivative, but innovative, and Das Ram is an album which wanders through infinite shades of weird, and bristles with tension and myriad shades of darkness.

Spiegelman/Rachel Mason