BLACK LIGHT ASCENSION: Post Future Recordings CD Hau Ruk!/Tesco Distribution
The second album (and follow up to 2011’s ‘Ashes’) starts off pretty much where it’s predecessor left off, with the electronic machine beats and Post-Punk isms of ‘Ten Minutes to Midnight’. Gradually building in urgency, the key to this track is the pace dictated by layered electronic synths that give life to the intentional monotony.
Whilst being a trifle painful in parts, there is something beguiling to ‘Safe at Home’ with its 80’s synth and Ian Curtis-esque vocals; even if they are off a touch with their mimicry and are ultimately bettered on ‘Gerouge’, where the pop factor is turned up to 11.
‘Teeth’ really grabs the Joy Division obsession by the horns and makes a stab at reproducing something similar to Hooky’s bass lines. Whilst not being the most competent attempt I have ever heard, it did make me smile somewhat.
I am in two minds about Black Light Ascension; for the most part there is much on this album that appeals to me, even if some of it is badly composed. Part of me screams that this shouldn’t be happening; yet if I look retrospectively, in reality a lot of Post-Punk and genres on a parallel path have always been a little rough around the edges.
BLA are not without their gems, neither are they without their mistakes. In a lot of respects it’s the errors of their ways that make them that little bit more endearing.
DERNIERE VOLONTE: Immortel CD Hau-Ruk!/Tesco Distribution
Now for some dodgy camp vocals, simplistic badly played synthesizers and acoustic guitars; I didn’t expect anything less really after being subjected to this artists previous works.
Tragic as it sounds a lot of this is really catchy stuff; ‘Mon Orage’ in all fairness is really decent, like a foreign, more camp Ultravox hanging out with The Human League whilst dancing with Kraftwerk and you might be somewhere close and its hard not to like it (I say through gritted teeth). For example, ‘Immortel’ is a mix of folk and synth-pop, it’s bizarrely infectious in many a way and it really pains me to say that I like a lot of this.
Unfortunately over the course of fourteen tracks there isn’t much variation and the truly sad thing is, I have a suspicion this isn’t done tongue in cheek and I really believe they’re being serious which goes against the fun nature this album invokes.
I would love to have seen more of the impressive vocal-less ‘Fragile’ which had a deeper side to it and could have been a truly massive number; in fact I could have listened to a whole album of that alone with its glorious dark pads and atmosphere-rich film score quality.
Still, as an album this is gorgeously packaged and is pleasant and solid enough, probably enough to become a Euro-Pop guilty pleasure for a few people out there, myself included.
6COMM: The Fruits Of Yggdrasil CD Hau Ruk!/Tesco Distribution
If you can pronounce the title of this album you are a better man than me I guess, but it’s as bizarre as I expected considering this is from the pen of Patrick Leagas.
A purely Pagan affair no less, Yggdrasil happens to be a cosmic Ash tree born as the steed of Odin and its fruit were the runes of life or so it would appear. So there you have it.
I pretty much knew this would be stark raving bonkers before even hitting play and lo behold I wasn’t incorrect in my assumptions either. Vocal elements come from the lungs of Freya Aswynn who wails like a demented alley cat for pretty much all of track one and it’s obviously not intentional, but I pretty much laughed my head off for the majority of this number and couldn’t take it as serious as this duo so obviously wanted the listener to do.
After the rather in your face tribalism of track one, track number two ‘Voluspa’ was a more ambient affair with a light narration that again is purely religious from start to finish; as much as I like the whole Pagan historical aspect to the music, this just started to get a little too much to live with.
Lets get this straight, when I listen to a CD it’s because I like songs and try as I might to scour this album for one, it is all but barren of anything to really listen to. If you like ritual incantations and whatnot then this might just be for you, but as intriguing as this may be I just haven’t the heart to really take this on board and it all becomes a little pretentious rather than drive home what they are so intentionally trying to convey.
Beautifully packaged in a stunning eight-panel digi-pak this promised much more than is ultimately delivered; out and out cheesy nutcase madness that just left me baffled.
BAIN WOLFKIND: Wasteland CDep Hau Ruk!/Tesco Distribution
There is an underlying decadence to the works of Bain Wolfkind. Like some bastard son of Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave, Wolfkind drawls and ponders life draped in a wall of black, like some paladin amongst a sea of Film Noir.
Yes this does have some sort of dark romanticism, and it’s clearly the image Bain is trying to portray. With such fancies however, you really have to have the goods to pull it off perfectly and here unfortunately this is where he just falls short.
The music itself is fairly decent; a blend of guitar, organ, tambourine and such like mixed with his vocals. It’s a simple cocktail and is characterised by an underlying carnal essence. This sounds great admittedly, but it all feels a little forced as a whole and it’s not just the songs themselves.
I just can’t help feeling that in every aspect BW is trying too hard to match his contemporaries and be that aging, cool, cigarette smoking, stubble sporting, black clad hero that you see in cop films, that drinks too much whisky and doesn’t get on with his boss, looks down and out, but always gets the pretty girl and she still pretends she hates him.
Yeah I am sounding a little cruel and it aint all bad. This just doesn’t have any real substance that’s all. Maybe this will work on a full album and not this rather limited content EP.
VARUNNA: Cantos CD Hau Ruk!/Tesco Distribution
Another peculiar release from the Hau-Ruk stable. Italian trio Varunna start up with loose guitars in fine neo-folk fashion that flow nicely from the off, only to be interrupted with the annoying addition of a horn-come-bagpipe that really does grate on your nerves.
Sadly, things degrade further as the disc goes along. The vocal style does nothing for the music, bordering on the inane and far too linear with nothing raising the ball. Only the odd addition of whistles and harmonica’s give this any real substance.
Credit where credit is due, they don’t follow the same path as artists such as Death In June (which I half expected as every man and his dog copy them) and have the occasional surprise with ‘Noi Senza Voi’ which incorporates an almost post punk and dare I say it, ‘surf’ mentality to its structure. Either way, this is a unchallenging release, that doesn’t really do it for me. I am sure there are some out there who will love this, particularly if you are into Novy Svet and the like, I would imagine.