Monday, May 18, 2015
Cassette Review: Melampus "Hexagon Garden" (old bicycle records)
[8 CHF // Edition of 100 // https://oldbicyclerecords.bandcamp.com/album/hexagon-garden]
Even though this is the third cassette I am listening to from the old bicycle label, I still treat it as if it was my first. I go into it with no expectations as to what it may or may not sound like because as labels (and artists) have shown me in the past you can't really try and predict patterns and push labels (or even artists) into genres. At one time, some odd decades ago, a label like Victory Records could have been known for releasing hardcore music only and thus be known as a "hardcore label", but these days I feel like labels just end up releasing music they like which can really broaden their fields.
"Hexagon Garden" begins with a ringing guitar riff and then it is joined by bass. This turns into a full band sound and it reminds me of a song as performed by two very different artists. The original is by Bjork and it's called "Army of Me" and regardless of how you feel about her or Helmet you should definitely try and go out of your way to hear both versions of this song. (I suggest using YouTube if you can) The fact that it comes together though between both of those very different musicians just really amazes even me.
Beyond that there are distorted guitars and the overall feeling of the music reminds me a bit of PJ Harvey, which seems like an easy and general comparison to make but it also has that darkness in it, that brooding feel which makes me think it could be something off of "The Crow" soundtrack (which, yes, PJ Harvey also has a connection to) and it is also a little trippy and industrial in that way as well.
There really isn't a specific artist to compare this with and that is something I'm come to like more than anything else, but the vocals in some ways do remind me of Madonna somehow (her earlier work) and that isn't even a bad thing here. I also have these feelings of Dead Sara in the songs, but when I think of Dead Sara I always think of them as a rock band, just big, loud and somewhat fast paced. The music of Melampus is a bit slower in its nature, with that laid back vibe that I just can't find in Dead Sara, even when they perform acoustic.
A song like "Worthy" has vocals in the rounds and it sounds like something that might have been a chant to pass the time in the days of either slaves picking cotton or simply someone working on a chain gang. It has this sort of haunting sense to it though, where it doesn't feel so much like it's being sung outside (which is where the other two ideas would put it) but rather in your sleep or while you are trying to sleep but are just in a state of perpetual panic.
For "Simple Man" (which follows "Worthy") and the rest of the cassette the melodies return and it begins to sound more like that first song, but yes, the melodies really are a big part of this music as well. It's that borderline pop rock that I just can't quite place with borderline stoner rock as it has that slowly delivered feel to it but then also something else and that something is dark.
Whether or not there has existed this combination of sounds before with this small list of influences fused together to form a creation unique in and of itself doesn't matter at this point. Even if someone else was doing exactly this same thing (and they're not) it would probably not end up sounding half as good as this cassette. One of my favorite pieces of music so far this year and within my Top 5 of all-time instantly.