Spend any time listening to The Great Sabatini and you’ll realise that this Montreal-based quartet aren’t a one-trick pony. Their fans must all come hard-wired to embrace change since, like a kid on jungle juice, their music never settles. One minute they’ll be locked into spewing forth melancholic post-hardcore to an elephantine drumbeat, the next they will be weaving sludgy riffs around hammering, avant-garde thrash.
The fact that Dog Years represents yet another tweak to
their musical direction should therefore come as no surprise. In their
own words… “This one is a rare instance in which we quit screaming like
we had our balls in a vice long enough to try singing like we had our
balls in a vice. Not really willing to go all the way clean with it, but
it was a slightly different approach.”
The album (that’d be the one sporting the satanic Muppet on
the front) opens at breakneck pace with a volley of disembodied,
cathartic howls piling into a series of chugging, jagged rhythms. All
first four tracks attack with a conviction and power that will both
alarm and disarm. In those 9 short minutes, these Sabatini boys manage
to find room for both doom-ridden swagger and speed-hungry insanity.
Then, with a cursory flick of the wrist they sweep all that aside,
eliminate the throat-scouring vocals and throw in the melodious and
mind-bending Torche-esque stoned groove of “Reach” and an acoustic, steel-stringed slice of evocative Americana with “Akela”.
By keeping the production raw, they retain a sense of the chaotic,
hastily-assembled magic that only a band on the edge can produce. The
little hits of feedback and splattering dissonance seal the deal. King
of the lot for atmosphere is the crushing menace of “Pitchfork Pete”.
Perhaps it’s the gaggle of ritual chanting that does it but somewhere in
here they manage to reproduce the kind of manic fervour that only a
lynchmob could possess.
Yes, it’s scattergun and, yes, it may not be the easiest thing to
sink your teeth into but The Great Sabatini simply aren’t afraid to
venture down paths less-travelled and, by god, that’s a rare and heroic
thing for a band to do.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Monday, June 16, 2014
And scramble them they do. You’ll feel the insane levels of distortion and earth-shattering vibrations bursting from “Thor” Ohne’s powered-up bass cabs impacting as a series of punches to the gut. Whilst C.’s baritone Telecaster and mournful E-bow do battle with wild feedback that will set your teeth on edge, you’ll hear a range of bleak effects, loops and tones that will have you on your knees, crushing invisible oranges in Twinesuns’ vast, post-apocalyptic wasteland. If you survive all that, there’s always guest moog-meister, Renzo, to finish you off.
No matter how original they may consider themselves they still follow the basics of the genre. They give it plenty of run-time to allow for their spine-tinglingly torpid pacing and throw in a mass of cyclical patterns to brand the riffs onto the listener’s memory banks. In fact, it is their slavish dependency upon these basics that ultimately mark them out as a less palatable alternative to their droning brethren.
With only five tracks to sift through, there is a surprisingly distinct lack of variety and ingenuity. Sporting naggingly over-simplified structures, the songwriting has a tendency to merely resort back to the same dominating and domineering gruntwork put in by the drop strings. The last two tracks, and in particular, the anomalous and uninspired 3-note repeater “Like My Father Before Me…”, play like two ends of the same infinity-bothering jam. On the plus side, the closer “Die Drie Gesichter Der Furcht” spreads its wings a little wider adding a new level of melancholic resonance with an earthy, throbbing pulse and an echoing, ethereal sawing that could only come from somewhere deep underground.
Certainly, the DIY spirit is kept alive here and fans of Sunn 0))), Earth, Sleep, Khanate, Eagle Twin and GYBE! should find some crumbs of comfort in their raw authenticity, robust core and grasp of the powerful concept that less is, so often, more.
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Soon to be released in the US (Europe had it back in April), Stranded In Arcadia contains tracks that sound like they've simply drifted in from the desert with deeply stylized, sultry vocals that place you in amongst the buzzing swarm of rich, tripped-out instruments competing for space. The majority of songs here reside within the stoned triangle of Kylesa, Fu Manchu and Band Of Skulls as the band seek to draw inspiration from everything in between and beyond.
From the off, there are big hits of Kyuss and Electric Wizard as "The Light Beyond" sets off pumping out a voluminous, elephantine bassline supplemented by floor-shaking fuzz and wailing vocals. Very quickly you'll hit the volley of catchy choruses and cutting vocal hooks like those that punch forth powerfully from "Hovering Satellites", "Holy Mondays" and "Join The Race".
Do look out for the sharp, bluesy groover "Circles". It's a unique track that goads the sweet dual vocal of Julien Praz and Jimmy Kinast into suddenly mimicking duos like those that appeared in The Animals or 60s-afficionados Arlo. The end result is unbelievably rich in colour, insistently introspective and comes complete with a mile-deep groove and a timeless, sun-kissed vibe. Elsewhere, there is an abundance of warbling pedal effects, "Arcadia" and "Beyond The Light", and glitching electronic techniques employed, most probably in what would have been an intensive session of post-production. These are the tracks that reveal the most about the band's intentions. They are clearly invitations to release your shackles and travel as far along their emotional journey as you dare.
There is an elegant simplicity to so many of these structures. The cosmos-stretching cursive sections and the repeating motif certainly allow the listener to fully explore the variety of spaces into which they are thrown. To that end, there are those who may find the music to be a little too repetitious, unnecessarily twee or, at worst, agonisingly self-indulgent (the stomping "Seen A Ghost" is a particularly tiresome prospect), but persevere and there is far more to marvel than to sneer at. It is certainly the case that those who drink deepest will undoubtedly feel the soothing qualities of this one part-doom, two parts-psych soup best of all.