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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Album Review: No Made Sense - New Season/New Blues

Once in a while a band comes along and lays one on your chin from completely out of nowhere. In shock, you check up on them and find a band devoid of egos, with no mission statement, with no burning desire for you to join their MySpace, their Twitter feed or “like our Facebook page, FFS!” These are the bands that you usually end up treasuring more than most because they care what their music sounds like far more than what they look like whilst they’re doing it, and care more about enjoying themselves than making money or influencing people. Hold onto these moments because these are also the bands that can just as quickly slip through your fingers. are one of these bands. Their, quite frankly, stunning debut, The Epillanic Choragi, a darkly conceptual work loaded with cryptic titles, was released on Basick without fanfare a couple of years back, around the same time as bands from the same small city of Reading, UK, were releasing big-hitting, attention-smothered albums on big, noisy labels (specifically, Conclusion Of An Age on Nuclear Blast and ’s Dawn Of Reprisal on Metal Blade).

Now are back with New Season/New Blues, an album of individual tracks and ideas and, consequently, an album of many colours and tastes. They’ve recorded it live and the production is certainly a lot rougher, with gritty, piercing vocals and clanging strings that clamber over each other. It has resulted in a less-polished but heartier end result that places them closer to what they could capably produce live. Joe Battimelli’s bass, in particular, doesn’t so much boom as pop and spit whilst Leo Dennett’s guitar takes its opportunity to crunchily explore layer upon layer of trembling riffs and calloused, knotty chord repetitions.

Tracks like “No Gain From Seeking” and “I’ve Not Been”, in particular, show a move towards the more flamboyant psych-inflected rock of bands like , and whilst “Lying On My Own” gives you a blast of that howling punkish fervour that were so famed for. It doesn’t mean the band haven’t lost their ability to dwell at the doomy post-metal altar of bands like and . Then, with songs like “Four” and “You Might As Well” they conjure up complex, soul-sucking vortices to prove they are still one of the few groups with the skill, patience and intelligence to fill the gaping hole that ripped when they called time on their career.

There are more sides to this band than a dodecahedron. “Half Of The Wall” offers slowly decaying white noise sands and distant futuristic sounds of computer banks streaming data until both eventually crack and allow the opening duo of power chord and fuzzed-up bass that form “Silence” to break through their weakened binary security. This is a track that follows a similar pattern, with the same impact, to ’ grooviest material (think “Station” multiplied by “Carpe”. Dennett fingers riffs, impelling them on, until they embed themselves into your synapses; until you find yourself helplessly spasming along to the music.

New Season/New Blues is the equivalent of slowly shovelling a pick n’ mix bag of candy in your mouth. Some flavors you’ll instantly adore, others you’ll discover are an acquired taste. One second your face will screw up as Dennett misanthropically softens his vocal to a half-spoken whispering (on “Down” and the opening of “You Might As Well”), the next, your cheeks will glow and a feeling of utter bliss will drop as the final riff of “No Gain From Seeking” boots up, and again when the band offer a trip back to the beauty of “Milachi’s Depths” (from their debut) for “Lying On My Own.” These are the moments in music that we live for and it’s what singles out as men of genius.

“Sleep” has the intensity of “Silence” but is a lot more open to frenzy. It is genuinely brilliant mayhem and it rocks my little world. The gradual increase in tempo until they are speeding towards a certain death seems somehow representative of their sudden and scarily well-concealed decision to go out with a bang. Yes, you heard right, the twist in the tail is that have casually released this gem of an album into the ether at the same time that they blogged this throwaway statement – “Also, you might not hear from us again for a while. Or maybe ever. So, thanks and stuff.” Dig a little deeper and it appears they all have different ideas on where they want to take their music, so you may be seeing their names attached to new projects very soon. Wherever, they choose to go, you can be sure good things will follow. might have remained resolutely underground but for those lucky few that know of their existence, if this really is the end, it’s been one hell of a thrilling ride.

The full album is now streaming and available for pay-what-you-want download here.

Also online @ The New Review = http://thenewreview.net/reviews/no-made-sense-new-season-new-blues
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