Friday, November 02, 2012


This mini-album is Kaatskill Mountains' third digital name-your-price release this year. On the cover of second release the EP “Soul Acceptance” from August, the duo (I’ve not been able to find any names anywhere thus far) appear as a loved-up cartoon boy-girl couple, all flower garlands and entwined octopus limb arms. Sweet. However the music of “50th Dead World”, my first encounter with the Manchester band, is a thunderous collision of Swans-like apocalyptic noise, crypto-Medieval spelling and bursts of dream-pop gospel elation.

Songs can finish abruptly, some are little more than sketches in quarrelsome noise (the 60 second shuddering mini-tantrum of ‘Dygnyty’ or the insistent angry threats of ‘Leave Her Alone’ ) and at 19 minutes long their first ‘album’ can feel like a cursory introduction. But it’s a memorable one. Even in the precious few months since the two earlier EPs you can hear how Kaatskill Mountains have developed their “gospel-pop-garage-noise” and how cleverly they deploy (just?) drums and guitar to create a weird array of sounds. The hypnotic instrumental ‘Praeyr’ is built on blacksmith anvil clang and what sounds like the noisy, whirring flutter of angel’s wings. ‘Lammas Tyde’ opens with warbling vocals, muezzin- like calling the faithful to prayer before fierce cymbal crashes and distorted waves of metallic guitar come in. The range of tempo on the record is marked by the rattling garage-punk urgency of declaration-of-faith ‘True Vyne’ and the sedate(d), soulful ‘Azryal's Tomb’, the album’s longest track and its most atypical. But it’s the clattering, spiritual clamour in between that sticks in the mind even when the subject matter is not devotional: listen to the angelic choir-boy delight in which the lines “I’m a murderer / can’t you tell?” are sung in ‘Murderer’.

If “I’m a lyar / there’s no heaven there for me” is how Kaatskill Mountains open the record, they close it with ‘Aryval To The Dead World’: the sound of the Rapture, the glorious transportation of souls to a better world, in one minute of shimmering, wordless ecstatic howls and golden splashes of cymbals. Whether this is true faith put through its pace over eleven brief songs or the band’s spiritual dimension is an aesthetic one, doesn’t concern me: musically it works. Noisy, distinctive and joyous: praise be.

Kaatskill Mountains 50th Dead World [BUY]

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