Following Dr Dick Porter (PHD)’s subversion of the BOTW format last week, we shape-shift once again this week with our recommendation selection, to bring you: Combo Of The Week (COTW).
All-female five-piece, Selvhenter, hail from Norrebro, Copenhagen, and share rehearsal space at Mayhem with the creme-de-la-creme of the contemporary Danish underground. Formed in 2007, Selvhenter (English translation: ‘a room of one’s own’), have honed their sound in the ensuing years, employing sax, violin, trombone and a twin-drum set-up, embracing elements of freeform expressionism, post-jazz, doom metal and noise, all delivered with the conviction of a hardcore punk approach. The band forged their debut album, ‘Frk B Fricka’, five years into their existence in 2012, and are about to release their sophomore effort, ‘Motions Of Large Bodies’, on Eget Vaerelse.
Recorded at the aforementioned Mayhem, ‘Motions Of Large Bodies’ both sustains and expands the template established on ‘Frk B Fricka': stretching the scope, widening the apertures, broadening the horizons, developing nuanced art of perfect clarity. This is music of cinematic ambition, that conjures up endless possibilities in a suitably inquiring mind. The album was produced by Aske Zidore, the man responsible for the haunting theme to Scandinavian thriller, ‘The Bridge’.
‘Motions Of Large Bodies’ can be streamed here:
As a means of demonstrating that we at trakMARX can read as well as groove, we’ve had our beaks in Ugly Love – An honest-to-goodness old school style A5 ‘zine, filled with the kind of energy and enthusiasm that made the medium so vibrant before the solipsists moved in with their personal pronouns. Produced by the indefatigable Nat Guest (moonlighting from her usual vocation of supplying powerhouse vocals for hardcore hierophants F. Emasculata), Ugly Love has been making waves in the subcultural pond since February 2013, and its recent third issue is just about sold out.
The ‘zine mixes interviews and reviews with thoughtful opinion pieces, garnished with self-effacing humour and even the odd cartoon strip. Delighted to discover someone doing something properly, trakMARX bounded over toward Nat and demanded the lowdown:
What inspired you to start a fanzine in the first place?
I started writing a ‘zine for a couple of reasons, one; because while I was pregnant I became so huge that I could barely leave the house, so that restricted me from going out to gigs too often but I didn’t want to miss out on music/fun. And two, because one day I went to a newsagent to buy a magazine and I left empty handed because I looked through at all of them and couldn’t find a single fucking thing that was of any interest to me. It was so depressing that I went home and started trying to write the sort of thing that I would like to read… or at give it a try anyway!
So, were there any specific ‘zines, mags or writers that you drew inspiration from, or hoped to evoke the spirit of?
There’s a ton really. I’ve read loads of zines over the years, more recently ones like One Way Ticket To Cubesville, or Positive Creed (which is definitely worth checking out) and Ghost Fuck was a cool one, but I don’t think it exists anymore. I love all writing, Dorothy Parker is a massive inspiration to me, the wonderful misery guts that is Douglas Coupland, Caitlin Moran is hilarious and amazing, and all of the writers and people from the riot grrl era which is probably where it all started from. But I wanted to take elements of all of them and make it my own.
Did you have any specific agenda, or themes in mind when you started out – conversely, was there anything that you wanted to keep away from doing with the ‘zine?
I definitely wanted to cover feminism and music (or a combination of the two) as they’re subjects really close to my heart, but I also wanted it to be accessible for everyone and with humour. That’s why in the first issue I interviewed loads of people with different points of view just to put across that ugly love covers all topics – unless it’s hateful – because then it can fuck off. I also wanted loads of pictures and I’m very lucky to have clever friends who can do the drawings for me (I draw like a child).
I guess in essence I want it to cover anything that interests me and leave out anything I don’t know enough about to talk about properly or anything which is based around hating other people. My brain is made up of a million incomplete things and ideas so Ugly Love is an opportunity for me to put them somewhere!
Had you been involved with any fanzines before?
I’ve never written my own one before. I once wrote an article for a ‘zine called Bitchslap (terrible name) and a couple of interviews with my band.. but other than that I’ve only done Ugly Love and a bit of writing my blog, but I hardly ever add anything to that. I’m a bit of a newbie to it all really!
What made you pick ‘Ugly Love’ as a title – is it a reference to anything?
‘Ugly Love’ is the name of a song by the Eels which is one of my favourite bands. I spent ages trying to think of a name and then saw that on a track listing and it stuck out. To me it is captures everything I feel that if you look at things carefully anything can be beautiful. It’s like punk music… loads of people dismiss it because it’s so loud… but if you look closely, it’s people singing/screaming about honest and important things. Well, most the time anyway!
When you started the fanzine, were there any specific bands that you especially wanted to feature, and if so – why?
When I started it I wanted to cover bands that I have played with over the years and my friends’ bands, like Rash Decision and Monolithian. And not because they’re my friends, but because they’re genuinely amazing bands who work really really hard. And it was also important to me that I covered a wide variety of genres (although I wanted it to be predominantly punk themed) as I like most sorts of music, so I assumed others might too! ha! But then I got too big for my boots and started sending emails to ‘famous’ band people and initially I got an interview with Steve Moriarty (drummer from the Gits) and I couldn’t believe how awesome that was and so I thought I would try to contact Jennifer Finch from L7, and she said yes too! And she’s one of my heroes, so I literally don’t know where I want to go next! Elvis..?
How did you first get into punk rock?
When I was about 14 (It was quite late for me as I didn’t have older siblings and my parents listened to pop or Motown), my friend handed me a cassette that she thought I HAD to hear, which is weird as up to this point we listened to whatever was on the radio… but I took it home and put it on and it immediately changed my world. It was Nirvana’s Nevermind. But from then on I desperately tried to find out about them (Nirvana) and all other related bands, and then that took me into looking into the original punk bands. And this was in the days when there was hardly any internet access, so it was a case of going to the library or finding a rich friend so I could use their dad’s computer! I was immediately obsessed and tried to search out other weirdos who liked it too, but it wasn’t really until I left home that I found a social group where we were nearly all interested in punk or alternative music, and then once you have that you discover bands through them – and that has continued ever since.
I’m always a little surprised by the impact that Nirvana had on the youth of that era. Why do you think they have provided such a gateway to all manner of punk/hardcore/dirty r’n’r
I think that Nirvana wrote really catchy songs with poppy melodies (although it took me years to admit that) and I think that you have to tune your ears into non-pop music and so they were more accessible in that way (well I think so anyway), so if the first non-pop band I heard was Slayer or F-Minus then my mind probably would have exploded and that would have been the end of that. But other than that, I think it’s just one of those magic combinations that nobody can really logically explain. The good thing is, Nirvana allowed me to hear bands like L7 who otherwise probably would have been unheard of. L7 were amazing because they weren’t trying to win the beauty competition or to be liked by everyone, they were just doing their own thing whether people liked it or not. I think very, very secretly Nirvana (despite what their interviews said) DID want people to like them. I don’t know – I could talk about why I love Nirvana until I passed out. Also it does make me wonder what music will turn into as I think that each generation tries to invent music which is more shocking or ‘different’ than the last – my nan used to tell my dad off for liking the Beatles as they were ‘trouble with long hair’, and then the punk of the 70’s/80’s who were terrifying to most people at the time, but by today’s standards seem fairly innocent (apart from maybe GG Allin!). I just wonder whether it will get more extreme or it will start from the beginning again.
So, how did Nirvana lead you to hardcore – did you follow the path through the US variant first?
I think music is generally really only shocking to people who enjoy being shocked and unfortunately they’re normally the loudest people. Most normal people aren’t shocked or don’t care. As for Nirvana leading me to hardcore, it wasn’t really a direct route. I think it was a slow thing as in my early teens, I didn’t really want to listen to anything BUT Nirvana and then it wasn’t until my early twenties that I was around people who liked to listen to other things and I gradually absorbed other bands. It started off with the bigger American hardcore bands and then gradually to other bits and pieces. I think it wasn’t really until the last 5 years or so that I started really delving into DIY hardcore bands from all over the world. I’ve got a couple of good DVD’s that I’ve watched with a pen and paper and have bought a ton of albums on the basis of it (e.g. From The Back of the Room, which is an incredible film about women in punk/hardcore). Being in bands also means you occasionally get the chance to play with some incredible bands.
UL promotes feminism – my understanding of the movement is based on mags like Spare Rib and bands such as the Au Pairs, Raincoats, Delta 5 etc – it seems to me that many of the issues being addressed today are the same as they were back when ‘Penis Envy’ or ‘Playing With A Different Sex’ came out. Is that accurate? Has there been progress?
I’ve thought a lot about this question and I don’t think there’s a clear and definitive answer. Some things are much much better: Social media has allowed the message of feminism to be spread everywhere so it’s easier for people to find out about it, and because of that, I don’t think it’s such a shocking thing for women to say they’re a feminist. I think there are a lot more laws protecting women and there are more opportunities, and because of feminism, women are allowed to question things that they don’t think are right, more so ever than before.
There are some things that are the same: Women are still paid less, often disregarded or sexualised. There are still expectations on women that there just aren’t on men, and women who declare themselves as feminist will still find a lot of responses being thrown at them along the lines of ‘lesbo, whinger, bitch, unnecessary, pointless, unfeminine’ etc.
But some things are worse. The same internet access that has spread the word of feminism has also worked against it by making the sexualisation of women more and more obvious and normalised – and more and more graphic. Young people of this generation are exposed to more graphic porn than ever before and have more expectations for themselves and others because of this. And sadly these expectations often end up being about what women can provide for men sexually and not the other way round. Obviously, this isn’t true for everyone, but it’s a far higher percentage than ever before.
My partner is a feminist and I will bring my daughter up to have a good understanding of feminism (although she can choose what she wants to define herself as) and most of my friends are feminists or have at the very least a great understanding of feminism and that’s hugely important to me. Through my friends and through writing in the ‘zine, I hope I can make some people consider a different point of view. I was shocked by the recent speech by Emma Watson on feminism because so many people were inspired by it. I felt like her words were very well put across but seemed very obvious, bread and butter to me – so I was surprised some people felt it was so ground-breaking – but whether or not that is the case, it’s nevertheless a positive thing if it starts making some young people think about these issues.
I think the idea that something so self-evident remains an issue is kind of shocking. I think that there’s been shifts in the way that feminism is perceived in the 35 years or so since I became aware of the concept – not always positive – at one point the term ‘post-feminist’ seemed prevalent – do you think that has any meaning?
I think therein lies probably the biggest problem with feminism. In my very simple language, Feminism is about women being treated equally and fairly. So when it fractures off into sub-groups with very specific wants, I think there becomes an element of competition or animosity towards other parts of it. For example, last year I joined a feminist forum and I very politely questioned something someone had posted on the forum wall and I was yelled at by a ton of angry women – literally for asking a question. I felt so shitty about it that I left the group, and that’s really sad. Women and men need to support each other towards the goal of equality – even if that doesn’t mean having the exact same methodology. If we can’t support each other, how can we expect to make lasting changes???
But I think that feminism has changed over the years and has to evolve with the times we live in. Language, information and media changes all the time and so it makes sense that feminism would evolve too.
Also, I think it’s important to say that not everyone has to agree with each other. The important thing is that the underlying ethics are the same. So in a sense the term post feminism feels a bit pointless to me. Perhaps it’s useful to some people as it helps them define themselves? But I’ve never felt any particular draw towards it.
Does Ugly Love have a political standpoint – How would you define that?
Ugly Love doesn’t really have a particular political standpoint. Ugly Love is about being open minded and kind (puke). I always want there to be other writers in each issue who can offer up their own feelings and thoughts, even if they are not the same as mine. However, if someone wrote something that I felt was genuinely hateful or misinformed then I wouldn’t put it in there. Naturally I have my own thoughts and opinions, and the people I associate with are probably (in the large part) similarly minded to me and so I guess it’ll be a cold day in Helston before there’s anything right wing anywhere near Ugly Love! Ha! So I guess, the political standing is ‘anything but right wing’!
For my day job I am a drugs worker and so I have seen a lot of people seriously affected by the recent changes the current government has made. It’s massively unfair and wrong what is happening to the most vulnerable people in this country. And the fact that the media are in on it (demonising those people who are already in the gutter) makes me sick. So by doing my job (which I am hugely passionate about) and by writing Ugly Love and to some extent writing music and playing in my bands, I feel like it is my way of trying to make a difference (however big or small) or, at least, letting people know about the things I have seen.
Which pieces from other contributors have you been most pleased to be able to run?
It sounds like a cop out, but I’ve loved them all for different reasons. And I’ve been lucky to not have anything I didn’t want to put in there. I really like the way Joel Growney writes (in the first two issues), and I was really impressed with Hannah Richter who wrote about Harriet Tubman in issue 2. She had never written anything like that before and so I didn’t know what to expect – but I loved it.
I also really loved Dave Decision’s review of Batman. I got to properly see his geeky side at full pace! And I LOVE Simon Walker’s artwork. He’s amazing and does everything to order – pretty much straight away. Annoyingly talented bastard. But in terms of interviews, I feel unbelievably lucky to have spoken to Steve Moriarty and Jennifer Finch – Proper heroes who actually spoke to me – mental.
Which of your own pieces have meant the most to you?
I think I am most pleased with the don’t give up your day job article and the ‘Dear Diary – A Bit of Waffle” piece in the latest issue. I was a bit worried because it was fairly honest and a bit naval gazey but someone actually emailed me about it and thanked me for it as they felt they really got something from it and associated with it. And that felt amazing.
Where would you like to take Ugly Love, what would be the feature you’d most like to run?
I started off planning to do one issue just to go through the process of actually finishing something (I have a craft corner in my house, which was recently described, appropriately, as the broken corner). But when people bought it and said nice things it made me want to do more. I think I would like to find new ways to get the ‘zine ‘out there’ and not just keep bugging the same eight people on Facebook (!) So not necessarily to sell a billion copies, but just to get more people from all over the world to read it. But at the same time, I want to continue feeling the same way I did about the first one. Just that it’s a positive thing for me to do so I don’t go insane.
As for future features. The ideas filter in all the time. There are plenty of people I would LOVE to interview (e.g. Kathleen Hannah, Brody Dalle, Courtney Love, Mr Blobby…) so I will keep plugging away with that. And I want to get more people to write for it. I think so many people were discouraged from thinking that they were any good at writing or art when they were at school, that they forgot how to enjoy just doing it anyway.
I think I want to do something about how your core beliefs don’t always marry up with real life and about how people’s opinions change over the years, but I will have to think about whether that would make sense! So as always, I have no huge agenda. I just want to see what happens.
Cadaver Em Transe hail from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and create punk noire of an intriguing and dependency-forming nature. The four-piece ensemble are currently gaining attention rapidly, as fellow Sao Paulo residents, Rakta, blaze a trail across the US and Europe on tour, subsequently lighting up interest in their hometown scene.
Cadaver Em Transe began there recording adventures back in 2013, when they committed 4-tracks to the ‘Virus Tropical’ compilation c/s (Jameican Nights Fitas), alongside their Sao Paulo comrades from Rakta, Likzo, and Gattopardo:
In April 2004, CET released their 6-track demo on flexi disc (Nada Nada Discos):
Finally, in August 2014, CET dropped their alluringly masterful s/t 11-track debut (see header image), available through Feral Ward currently in the US, and awaiting a European release date at this time. The album is available to download from the CET bandcamp (see link below), and those of you who like your noire blacker than black would be advised to get involved.
Since trakMARX last featured Moriaty at Lemon Quay during the Spring, the Devon dirty blues duo have been going places. The release of their debut album ‘The Devil’s Child’ was met by rave reviews across a number of print monthlies, they were featured in Classic Rock Blues magazine and their album launch at Plymouth’s White Rabbit in June was a sweaty, celebratory triumph for a band that have honed their chops, paid their dues and are now cooking up unmatchable material that makes commercial contemporaries such as Royal Blood look feeble by comparison.
While tracks such as ‘Dahmer Blues’ and ‘Venus Fly Trap’ generate churning cesspools of sonic desire on disc, live Moriaty have demonstrated, again and again, their singular ability to turn venues into sweat-soaked caverns of voodoo-blues infused, poultry strutting abandon. On the eve of the release of their new seven-inch slab of envy-green vinyl ‘Jealous MF’ b/w ‘Gimmie Love’ on Easy Action Records, we caught up with Jordan and Mat to get the lowdown…
It’s been a big year … what have been the highlights?
J: It’s been one hell of a year. The album launch was probably my proudest moment. The BTTF secret cinema was the most fun and having Thom Yorke tell us how good we are is definitely the coolest thing. We have something up our sleeves that’s gonna surpass all that put together – But you’ll have to wait till January I’m afraid.
M: Yeah everything has been epic, lots of new people into the band and the gigs always seem rammed and the response to the album has been very good, it’s nice to know people still enjoy dirty rock and roll! The album launch was the epic bit! Such a great night and it could not have gone better! I’ve enjoyed the way people react to the tunes – and like Jordan said the big one is coming!
The album was a monster, were you pleased with the reception it got?
J: Yes definitely. It really got us out there. We’ve had people saying they thought the album was so good they never thought we’d be up to scratch live – Which is weird because I never had us down as recording artists really, it’s always been about live for us.
Do you think the album accurately represents the Moriaty that plays live?
J: No, not really. It does in places, but we do things on the album we won’t do live. I mean it’s not far off, but it’s a totally different discipline. I don’t want someone to come see us and say ‘Yeah it sounds just like the record’, ‘course not. I hope the record will peak your interest, get you in the mood and when you come see us, you should be blown away completely.
There seems to be an exchange of energy between yourselves and the audience at gigs (this was particularly evident at the Standard when you were a bit knackered beforehand, and then it just went…boom) is this something that you’ve regularly noticed?
J: Yeah, I guess. The Standard was pretty special, felt like a homecoming, but we have lots of places that feel like that these days. I think that was the night I realised I’ll never be able to stop playing. I just need it. If we have too long a live break I don’t know what to do with myself. But you cannot beat a good crowd and we have learnt the hard way that a good crowd can be 2 or 2000 people, you just have to engage them in the right way… But a drunk audience is always a good audience!
Would you ever consider a live album?
J: We have thought about it. But it would have to be right, I think that’s a bit further down the line when we have a good sound team behind us. It’s not the same though, live is about how loud it is, how sweaty you get and the people you share that experience with, which is why I try to keep records separate.
‘Jealous MF’ has been a live favourite for ages – did that play a part in its selection as the single?
J: Yes. The lyrics made it a fairly difficult choice and a restrictive one, but it’s general popularity made it an obvious one.
You’ve shot another video to go with the single…
J: The video was done at The Golden Lion in Bristol and stars a couple of the lads from Bristol bands Idles and The St Pierre Snake Invasion and our mate Diego basically having a fight over a girl. The song came about after a night I had in that pub so it made textbook sense to do it there – It’s really funny.
There’s also a new track (‘Gimmie Love’) on the B-side…
J: About two days after the launch we were invited to do some recording with Chris Wolstenholme. We’ve had the track knocking around for a while and it seemed suitable for the single as it’s loosely about greed. Being the B-side for ‘Jealous MF’ and going out on green vinyl it just made sense.
It must be satisfying to have a proper hunk of vinyl out?
J: Fuck yeah! It’s something we always wanted to do!
What’s coming up for Moriaty between now and the end of the year?
M: We’re launching the single at the Hub in Plymouth on Friday 24 October, plus there’s a gig with the Computers at the Apple and Parrot on 14 November. We’re gonna be writing and recording some more brand new tracks and videos for release the first half of next year. Pretty exciting times!
Iceage’s five-year metamorphosis from angst-ridden teen-punks to angst-ridden copper-bottomed rock’n’roll stars-in-waiting has reached its apogee with ‘Plowing Into The Field Of Love’ (Escho).
At twice the length of the band’s previous two long players, ‘New Brigade’ and ‘You’re Nothing’, ‘PITFOL’ represents somewhat of a paradigm shift, both in emphasis, and in signature sound. Presented as a double album in its vinyl format, ‘PITFOL’ features twelve of the band’s finest compositions to date over three sides, leaving the forth side blank, employing a range of instrumentation that could not have been predicted when Iceage debuted back in 2009 with ‘Hole’.
Parallels with the The Clash‘s third album, ‘London Calling’, are valid. Just as The Clash broke free from the confines of British first wave punk in search of the Yankee Dollar, so Iceage go International with ‘PITFOL’, in a bid to escape the crowded cellars of the DIY global punk underground. The breadth and depth of expansion is comparable, and, following the sonic development and subsequent wider acclaim afforded both Var and Lust For Youth over the eighteen months since ‘You’re Nothing’, Copenhagen’s youth are evidently ready to stake their claim on the world’s stage.
Those parallels continue in the live arena: The Clash had refused to play songs off their eponymous debut album (e.g. ‘White Riot’) by the time of ‘London Calling’ and the 16 Tons Tour. Similarly, Iceage are already refusing to play songs from ‘New Brigade’ (e.g. ‘White Rune’), claiming that they relish not giving their LCD live audience what they want, preferring instead to challenge them with new material. In this respect, The Clash and Iceage share common values incumbent of ‘the greatest rock’n’roll band on the planet’, circa whenever.
In terms of preparation, ‘PITFOL’ came trailed by a succession of videos, before eventually leaking online around the 22nd of September. The first of these visual tasters, ‘The Lord’s Favorite’, raised more than a few eyebrows when it landed on our device’s screens back in August. Riding a vaguely honky-tonk chassis, with a banjo driven engine, and a drawling Elias Bender Rønnenfelt hoedown of a vocal, higher in the mix than ever before, the song itself is a signifier, in terms of both the album’s general direction, and the promotion of EBR to ‘singer’; front-man; heart-throb, even: “You’re probably the only one, though it is hard to admit/That can save me/And I never like to ask for a helping hand/But I do now”. Aurally, Iceage have evidently achieved the immensity to match their intensity.
The second of these video trailers announced track-eight from the album, ‘Forever’: further evidence of the band’s immersion in Americana-noire, with a side-order of Antipodean menace. Swathed in violins, and embellished with an enormous horn section, the song builds to a crescendo from a standing start in just shy of five minutes: “If I could dive into the other/Like it was an ocean/Caressed by its water/I’d lose myself forever”.
A third video appeared for track-three, ‘How Many’, in the third week of September. More recognisable as the Iceage that recorded ‘You’re Nothing’, yet gargantuan by comparison, ‘How Many’ introduced the piano that plays such a significant role in setting the parameters of atmosphere that engulf ‘PITFOL’: “How many more days of disorder/Of drunkenly raving around”.
Finally, as September crawled to an exhausted close, the album leaked, seeping out through a succession of blogspots, and a further visual companion emerged in the form of the closing track from side-1 of the record, ‘Glassy Eyed, Dormant And Veiled’, an epic ballad of biblical proportions: “Don’t’ think I didn’t hear you coming home, boy/Don’t think I didn’t hear you coming home, last night”.
Fast-forward to 10/10/14, and the vinyl’s final arrival. As I removed the record from it’s packaging, I was relieved to find it had arrived in one piece: sans dinks, sans folds, sans splits (chapeau, Escho). Having recently endured fits of apoplexy with regard to the relationship between shipping costs and the care taken by postal workers in transporting and delivering fragile packages, I digress, momentarily: With the majority of my purchases, as I imagine with most of yours, being of a postal nature, it is both infuriating and counter-intuitive how vendors seem incapable of treating their customers fairly when the art of over-zealous postage results in damaged goods. Take, for example, Superior Viaduct, who shipped me a copy of their recent Crime compilation on red wax (already sold out at source, obviously) in packaging so meagre that it was a miracle the fucking record arrived unscathed. When I approached them regarding a replacement, they responded thus:
“We can send you a replacement. However, since shipping to the UK is so expensive, is there anything else you want to order from the label and we can put it in the same box?”
What? So you can send me a damaged copy of that, too? I responded by answering in the negative, and repeating my request for a replacement, offering photographic evidence of the damage. Two emails later: no reply, this bird is sinking. Morals? Fuck Superior Viaduct!
Meanwhile, back at the plot, sound is not the only element Iceage have overhauled for ‘PITFOL’. The cover art resembles a lipstick-smeared Roxy Music sleeve from the mid-70s. Gone are the front cover ‘runes’ of the previous two albums, that drove Everett True to accuse the band of Nazism, relegated to a colour version inside the gatefold, and a smaller white (got a problem with that, ET?) icon on the jacket’s rear, along with another first: a photograph of the band themselves. In its twelve inch format, the image looks more like a painting than the photograph of the CD edition, or online images: a subtle shift in tone, and the suggestion of canvas stock, renders it twice as endearing in the flesh.
Having lived with ‘PITFOL’ for nigh on three-weeks now, my appreciation of it as a work of art has undergone much reflection and revision. As with any release of this stature, the investment of time and consideration is vital to unlocking the many levels on which it operates. On a bed of guitars, bass, drums, violin, viola, banjo, piano, horns and anguish, Iceage have matured beyond all expectation, crafting twelve compositions of widescreen cinematic sound, firing the imagination, and stirring the soul.
Opening with the brooding, piano-stained ‘On My Fingers’: “They try and feed me in times of hunger/But I refuse their generous hands/Though I am a taker, an opportunist/I’ve got longings no offer can stand”. EBR dominates the mix with his breathy, muttered vocals, his native tongue rounding his pronunciation, brining an indefatigable uniqueness to his delivery of the English language. The lyrics for ‘PITFOL’ were apparently written in Berlin, during an extended session of concentration, fuelled by poverty and isolation. EBR should be commended for his mastery of a foreign tongue, and its subsequent application in the creation of what is tantamount to poetry, in any language.
The aforementioned ‘The Lord’s Favorite’, ‘How Many’ and ‘Glassy Eyed, Dormant And Veiled’ complete side-1, without putting a foot wrong. Meanwhile, ‘Stay’ opens side-2, with nods to The Pogues circa ‘Rum Sodomy And The Lash’. A plucked violin punctuates the chorus like an arrow from a bow: “Every which way I turn/I can sense it creeping in/So stay a little while/Before my thoughts go running wild/As a feral horse/And it will gallop till its death/So stay a little while/Before my thoughts go running wild”.
‘Let It Vanish’ is closer to the spirit of ‘You’re Nothing’, with its martial drum intro, strident bass, and anthemic guitar-led call to arms. The intonation on “I gave you life” provides the hook that delves into your ears, snagging your attention, forcing the issue beyond all reasonable doubt. ‘Abundant Living’ follows, quoting The Pogues’ ‘Dirty Old Town’ in its intro, before further referencing Shane MacGowan et al. with its horn-stamped chorus: “In the gaslight’s fire/I felt the power/As the mist came down/Hour by Hour”. Side-2 closes with the aforementioned grandeur of ‘Forever’, and the sense that a classic has been forged from the depths of despair has already begun to set in.
Side-3 commences with ‘Cimmerian Shade’, harking back to the ramshackle aggression of ‘New Brigade’, this is by far the album’s darkest and harshest moment: “I want to hear the silence in my drunken comfort/But voices they echo on and on and on/In the Cimmerian shade”. Territory previously explored on ‘Morals’ expands exponentially on ‘Against The Moon”, a piano-led, horn-flecked ballad that may well set the tone for album number four? Stranger things have happened, after all: “I can fight it/Make it roam/But a fugitive has a tendency to return home/Pissing against the moon”. ‘Simony’ (the act of selling church offices and roles) takes a penultimate glance back over its shoulder to ‘You’re Nothing’, with its rambling chorus and shimmering acoustic embellishments (the drop at 2:12 is particularly rewarding), before the album’s title-track brings proceedings close.
EBR has stated that ‘PITFOL’ itself is the closest Iceage have come to writing an Oasis song, and I can see where he’s coming from, but there’s no cause for alarm, Noel Gallagher is not capable of irony such as: “All those brash young studs/They have no idea what it’s like up here”. Never mind an outro that closes on: “they will place me in a hearse, hearse, hearse, hearse, hearse, hearse, hearse, hearse, hearse”.
So, there we have it, my album of the year is complete, and Iceage have fashioned a statement that confirms my long-held belief that they are the band of their generation, spiritually, morally and indubitably. If The Clash were the only band that mattered, then Iceage are the only band that muttered.
“Bootlickers stand aside/I am plowing into the field of love”.
- trakMARX: ROCK AND ROLL, GARAGE PUNK, PSYCHE, HEAVY METAL, PROTO PUNK, KRAUTROCK, JAP ROCK, PUNK ROCK, POST PUNK, INDUSTRIAL, BLACK METAL, DOOM/DRONE, POST ROCK, NOISE, AVANT ET L'ART DE L'ETRANGER