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This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Heliotropes – A Constant Sea November 23, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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Funny talking about Lush a month or two back, for here’s a group that in a way connects with another early 1990s form of music – that being the explosion of guitar oriented rock that sort of occurred on foot of grunge.

Jessica Numsuwankijkul, Amber Myers, Cici Harrison and Nya Abudu produce an unusual mix of stoner guitars and almost post-punk vocals. A Constant Sea is their first album, and it’s an invigorating listen, and fairly tightly constrained with no track over 5 minutes and most in or around the 4 minute mark.

The cover of the album depicts a woman with a sort of Donnie Darko style metal face mask – not a rabbit in this instance but a human one. That’s okay. Sort of different given that the music isn’t goth but again, that’s okay.

They say they are big fans of Smashing Pumpkins, and that’s okay too. Always liked the music, and particularly the more new-wave/post-punk influenced stuff, never so fond of the Corgan vocals.

But these vocals are good, almost off-hand in their delivery (so much so they remind me of the Breeders). And it’s not just the vocals. It’s almost effortlessly cool, great slabs of bass driven sludgey guitar rock that stays just the right side of metal, while retaining some degree of heaviness. They could be jamming with Monster Magnet and “Moonlite” or “Good and Evil’s” riffs would not be out of place an early Sabbath albums.

But there’s a more contemporary sheen as well, in part in the way that the instrumentation will drop almost away leaving the vocals, and backing vocals, harmonised and floating above subdued beats or almost ambient guitar sounds. Or the way the multi-tracked vocals are smeared over the slower passages as on the middle part of “Good and Evil” or the vocal sounds on “Joy Unfolds”. That’s no legacy of the late 60s or early 70s but seems closer to an overtly post-punk/grunge approach. The Breeders, L7, even Sonic Youth and in an odd way Mazzy Star (or Opal), are reference points.

Yet the clear affinity the group has to traditional heavy rock forms somehow merges with them to produce something near enough unique. “Ribbons” is a perfect example, those detached vocals lead into swells of none more cool howling psychedelic tinged guitars. “Christine”, which has a 50s feel to it is the closest one gets to a pop song, and yet that pop sensibility is undercut by a wave of distorted guitars that breaks midway through the track and then almost immediately subsides.

It’s a great combination and points to directions various they might go following this album.

Some revies have said that the production is just a little too clean, but then – I don’t know, it sort of underscores the pin-point precision of the instrumentation. And it also is a nod at their origins, apparently Numsuwankijkul and Myers wanted to play Eno-styled music.

Been listening to this a lot.

Early in the Morning

Ribbons

Moonlite

Christine

The Dove

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