Posts Tagged ‘tense’

This is it Forever – 25th March 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

There are many artists who can boast bodies of work that are solid, and illuminated by outstanding gems along the way, but there are few artists with bosies of work as consistent as worriedaboutsatan. Fifteen years into the project’s existence, that’s a significant achievement. Some artists go off the boil or seem to struggle with maintaining that level once they achieve a certain degree of success, whether it’s simply through a perceived pressure to deliver something or create something that will replicate whatever it was that achieved that success, or simply diminishing returns, but worriedaboutsatan, despite having tracks featured on Coronation Street and Adam Curtis’ Hypernormalisation documentary, not to mention radio play on both 6Music and Radio 1, and the very vocal support of one Ian Rankin, remain unstinting in their path.

Operating solo since 2019, Gavin Miller has maintained a constant flow of output: so constant that since Providence last May, Miller’s slipped out a brace of album-length single track releases (Circles I and Circles II) and an EP Live from the Studio that entirely bypassed me while I was, well, I don’t know, what was I doing?

The thing about consistency is that it absolutely does not equate to sameness, and worriedaboutsatan’s output is defined by its evolution, incorporating wide-ranging stylistic elements from delicate post-rock to pounding beats within the overall sphere of haunting, reflective ambience of varying shades of darkness and light. And while satan’s sounds exist in a rarefied space all of their own, no-one lives in a complete bubble. We live in dark times, and not insensitive to this, this latest offering finds Gavin channelling that global turbulence through his work.

Bloodsport promises a departure, and it delivers. Miller describes it as ‘still very much a worriedaboutsatan album, albeit a fairly angry one.’ It’s a fair summary. The intro piece, ‘Je Suis Désolé’ is a classically ‘electronic’ composition with oscillating waves cutting across one another, but the treble tones sound like sharpening knives, and it has an edge that scrapes at the skull quite unexpectedly.

Making a linguistic and stylistic switch, ‘Bis Ich Komme’ is slow and dubby, a dense bass and backed-off beats holding the structure of a drifting ambience, before it solidifies and hardens around the mid-point. There’s a tension, a simmering aggression in the tone of the barbed synths, something uncomfortable and uncertain in the samples, before jungle beats hammer through the woozy, stomach-clenching undulations like machine gun fire

Released ahead of the album as an EP with three remixes, ‘Sigourney Weaver Fanclub President’ is the theoretical lead single, and it’s a brooding eight-and-a-half minutes of echoes guitar sustain and crashing sheet metal. It’s the sound of shattering destruction and trepidation. It’s classic ‘satan in that it’s all the layers, all the atmosphere, but it’s also steelier, with a certain bite previously unheard.

The two parts of the centrepiece, ‘An Absolute Living Hell’ are definitive and are a statement in themselves. Dark, dank, oppressive, bass-heavy and bursting with shards of extraneous noise, rippling in deep, deep echo, this diptych is the soundtrack to this bleak moment in time. ‘Part 2’ goes full industrial with a throbbing bass and crashing percussion worthy of Test Dept or Neubauten.

The stark robotix of the brief but claustrophobic ‘Perfekt’ makes for possibly the least WAS-like track of their career, before the metronomic thud of ‘Slur They Words’, dives headlong into the territory darkest hi-hop: the origins of the vocals are unclear, but they’re abrasive, and ‘Apex Redditor’ draws the curtain in a bleak fashion, but with a redemptive hint of a rippling piano and twitchy percussion that – I hope – alludes the prospect of a new dawn. Because surely, surely, there has to be a light at the end of this tunnel.

AA

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4th September 2019

There are two ways of going about reviewing albums: the easy way and the hard way. The easy way is to crib to the max from the press release, paint yourself as an expert on every artist however obscure they may be, while making on-point comparisons suggested by the band and their PR. The hard way is to ignore all that, listen painstakingly and go out on a limb on your opinions based purely on instinct and past experience. The hard way is to appreciate that however much you yearn to wrote objective reviews, no-one ever responds to music in a purely objective way, and reviews which take a truly objective stance are incredibly tedious to read – and to write for that matter.

So I know nothing about Kristeen Young, and expect that the cover art doesn’t really convey much of what she or her music is about. Then again, expectations exist to be confounded, and while The SubSet isn’t about goth dressmaking, the somewhat baffling choice of image is in keeping with Young’s quirky style.

‘Less Than’ crashes in by way of a starter with everything all at once: Eastern-inspired grooves collide against electronic bleepery while her vocals allude to Kate Bush in their delivery – and that’s a defining feature as she squeaks and soars her way through the album’s ten tracks. It’s an effective style that’s well-suited to the music.

Experimentalism is a prominent factor on The SubSet, and the fact there are hit-and-miss elements are par for the course and in no way detract from the overall experience: ‘Everyday Subtraction’ begins as a rather mediocre mid-pace dance cut, but steps up the drama as Young shifts her vocals unexpectedly into full-on operatic mode, while ‘In 3rd Grade’ is a tense, driving electropop shoegaze effort that throws in nods to early Garbage (back when they were exciting), before playing out on a delicate piano and soft, subtle bass and a sudden, unexpected burst of noise. When I say ‘hit and miss’, there really isn’t much miss: it’s just that some moments are more striking and distinctive than others, and Young strikes what’s probably an appropriate balance between weird and accessible to afford herself the potential of a wider audience.

‘Pretty Twogether’ is vintage electropop with a warping twist and some extraneous noise, propelled by glitchy percussion, while ‘Marine Combo Dadd’ is a semi acappella shanty with dreamy, psychedelic overtones, and it sounds incongruous, that’s because it is: once gets the impression Kristeen Young revels in creating moments of uncanniness, of oddness that are only a fraction removed from the familiar, but far enough to sit just the little bit uncomfortably. It’s a strength she works to, and well.

If The SubSet is a wildly unpredictable affair, it’s all the better for it.

AA

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