The voices are disjointed, words unidentifiable, just vowel sounds echoed to the extent where the ends meet the beginnings once more. It’s a disquieting sensation, one that embeds itself in the synapses and casts a sinister sonic shadow, its shape forever flickering from one outline to another, never settling still long enough for you to know your enemy. It’s an eeriness unparalleled by any recent release – and reason enough to give worriedaboutsatan your absolute attention, should anything untoward occur otherwise.
And this reaction is based only on one of the three interlude pieces on the Leeds duo’s debut album, ‘arrivals’; less songs, more sketches, but no less affecting for their fragility compared to the full compositions that surround them, instrumental arrangements that find not a middle ground between electronica and post-rock worlds, but instead carve a niche deep and true and entirely for themselves. Elements from obvious parallels are evident – the glitch-addled passages of utmost urgency could attract comparisons to 65daysofstatic; the more cerebral, ethereal facets are in tune with the shimmering drone-scapes of Stars Of The Lid and Hammock – yet it’s the details that aren’t so easily identified which lend ‘arrivals’ its absorbing air of unearthliness.
Opener ‘one down’ glides on spectral tones before opening the floodgates for a wash of micro-beats on ‘evil dogs’ – think The Field trapped in a haunted house with only a faulty metronome for company. Then the voices begin and everything turns several shades of The Future Sound Of London, circa ‘Dead Cities’, when the possibilities for electronic music were still wild and bright, long before introspection bred dubstep and the dance world skipped staring at the lights for gazing at its feet. With a hefty low-end throb guiding the track through its eight-minute run time, its makers stitch tangents to the sturdy backbone that both dazzle and mystify, enveloping a could-be-standard beat in a veil of suspense. Towards the end the voice seems to clear: it’s a reassuring tone, but one fractured by a collapsing instrumental superstructure.
While predominantly forged within the circuitry of a series of man-made computerised devices, ‘arrivals’ features its share of ‘found sound’ embellishments, the most obvious moment coming at the end of the record’s centrepiece ‘i am a crooked man’. Minimal techno-inspired beats flutter from the speaker cones as, behind their first-wave attack, something more substantial begins to build, mechanised wails and moans foretelling of an unknown about to become vibrantly apparent. Gradually, everything gets louder – before you know it you’re in the middle of a melee of sweeping effect-laden guitars and chattering crickets, tiny sparks and fizzing pops finally surrendering to their own weight and collapsing to the sound of fireworks exploding overhead. As the whirring drone of a Gattling gun with its shells spent grinds away low in the background, rockets meet their makers against a sky you can see brilliantly through sound alone.
By comparison, ‘pissing about’ sounds suitably throwaway, but its simplicity is nevertheless appreciated after so much density preceding it. The title track closer sees the listener home with more of the album’s characterising blend of half-laconic, half-bracing beats and dreamy (nightmarish?) vocal textures, meeting a point of crescendo prior to a steady descent into a crackling climax of processed roars and string-like overtones, dying a final death in a boiling cauldron of self-inflicted static.
The overall impression: the sound of a new branch of the post-rock family tree, where electronica is less incorporated into existing formulas, more encouraged to dominate proceedings and ultimately sculpt a vision of the future never before apparent. Touchstones are there so that the listener never feels truly alone in the world worriedaboutsatan create, but step off the path just an inch and you’ll be tumbling through patterns and motifs both unfamiliarly alien and unsettlingly absorbing.
worriedaboutsatan play live at the Clash Saturday Social @ RoTa - held at the Notting Hill Arts Club - on May 23. The free-entry show opens at 4pm and also features Ungdomskulen, Friendship and The Laurel Collective. Get details HERE.