A Void – Dissociation

Posted: 6 September 2022 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

9th September 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

London-based Parisienne alt-noise-grunge threesome A Void have been kicking around for a bit now, although most of their kicking around seems to have been in London with few ventures beyond. During lockdown – a spell where they did a few online streams and the like – I found myself contemplating the strange geography of bands – specifically how in many places, ‘local’ is used disparagingly to denote an act who’ve failed – or declined – to venture beyond the vicinity of their region, and for any ‘regional’ act to ‘make it’ nationally, they need to venture to the capital, whereas in London a band can chug around the city’s venues forever and seem like they’re actually on tour without the word ‘local’ ever cropping up.

In politics, we complain about how just London-centric everything is, and back in the 80s and 90s, the same accusations were levelled by nine tenths of the country at the music press, as represented by Melody Maker, NME, and Sounds. It seems pretty trivial now we no longer have a music press, but back then it was frustrating to read endless reviews of London gigs by bands who never played outside London.

A Void don’t just hark back to that in their remaining firmly lodged in London, but in their ramshackle grunge-influenced stylings: for all of their time on stage, they’ve stubbornly shunned the common tendency to tighten up and get slick, with their shows being wild, chaotic, and clearly joyfully cathartic, which is completely in keeping with the music itself, which is pitched as being ‘FFO Hole / Silver Chair / Babes In Toyland’, and which got me wondering if there are any FO Silverchair, or if anyone even remembers them now.

This rough, raw immediacy carried through into their debut album, Awkward and Devastated, which featured some pretty wonky playing in places. It in now way detracted from the listening experience – quite the opposite, in fact, rendering it all the more real, all the more honest – but even now, I still find myself thinking ‘wow, they left that in?’

Penned by frontwoman Camille Alexander during lockdown, this second album was recorded between 2019 and 2021 in London, with producer Jason Wilson (Reuben, Dinosaur Pile-Up), the blurbage describes it as ‘a record delivered with a visceral, personal energy that touches on themes of heartbreak to womanhood to battles with mental health.’

The first taster we got of it was ‘Sad Events Reoccur’; presented here in two conjoined parts, a six-minute slow-burner of a single felt like a pretty daring way to mark a return after couple of years, but A Void really aren’t a band to be bothered by commercial considerations and it showcased an altogether meatier, chunkier sound that suited them well, and as such, makes for a strong start to the album.

‘Stepping on Snails’, also released as a single, has a certain swing to it, and is a winner with its explosive chorus and vocal harmonies, but it’s the thick, gritty bass that really holds everything together as the guitar wanders around hither and thither, ad I’m reminded of the squalling mess of Nirvana’s In Utero, where at times the guitar seems to serve to provide only texture and tone, while the rhythm section is what keeps the shape and prevents it from collapsing into incoherent noise.

There’s a reflective tone to ‘One of a Kind’, at least in the verses, before the distortion kicks in on the guitar and it’s a well-realised slice of tortured angst that runs the full gamut of churning emotions.

Dissociation is a giant leap forward from Awkward and Devastated, which was appropriately titled and we can see just how much everything about the band has evolved. The songwriting is more structured, but without losing any of its sense of dynamics, and the production really has optimized a much, much more solid performance in playing terms. It’s still raw and fiery, Camille still roars like she’s possessed and the force is strong, but this feels altogether more professional. That should by no means be equated to overpolished or selling out in any way: this newfound focus facilitates a more accurate articulation of the songs and the band’s intentions.

There’s not a dud track here, and the ones that aren’t instant grabs are strong growers, from the barren, bereft ‘2B Seen’ and ‘5102’ that revive the spirit of the criminally underrated Solar Race to the more accessible ‘In Vain’ that actually slips into a groove and bursts into an anthemic finale with a hook worthy of Alanis Morissette while at the same time bringing a touching emotional sincerity.

To describe an album as ‘mature’ feels like a vaguely damning praise that connotes a transition towards dullness and mediocrity: this is most certainly not the case with Dissociation. It’s just an altogether better realised set of songs: A Void have lost absolutely none of the fire, but have found the best method to get everything across, and it punches hard.

AA

ourbandisfuckinghotB

Comments
  1. […] A Void – Dissociation — Aural Aggravation […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s