It’s rather a cliché to connect landscape to music, but when De Rosa talk openly of their roots in “post-industrial Lanarkshire” then it becomes difficult not to link their intense, brooding, entirely creative rock music to the land that spawned them.
Fortunately, De Rosa’s third album ‘Weem’ severs this cord. Recorded in the Highlands, there’s a sense of Scottish gothic at work here, both in the word play and in the sounds, arrangements employed.
Opening cut ‘Spectres’ eases into life, the near ambient soundscape spilling into a driving, near Krautrock rhythm as Martin John Henry’s voice seems to sit just under the horizon. ‘Lanes’ is, by comparison, more direct, with the vocal purring menacingly: “if you can’t defend yourself then kill yourself…”
‘Chip On My Shoulder’ recalls the brooding songwriting of The Phantom Band, yet as ever De Rosa are busy moving in unexpected directions. Whenever a song settles into one point, one style, the band introduce new elements, such as palatial acoustic finger-picking on ‘Falling Water’ giving way to eerie synth work.
‘The Sea Cup’ is a minor gem, the jaunty rhythm hinting at a sea shanty while the raucous drums threaten to overpower the whispered vocal. ‘Devils’ is De Rosa at their pleading, emotive best, while ‘The Mute’ is an arch, complex finale to an album that thrives on lyrical allusion and musical complexity.
Cult heroes in their native Scotland, De Rosa have sat on the sidelines for too long. ‘Weem’ is perhaps the band’s most concise, accomplished document, a record that pushes the group further than ever before. Blessed with wisdom and a rare sense of poetry, ‘Weem’ finds De Rosa revelling in glorious dis-connection from their roots. Don’t miss out.
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