Thursday, 26 July 2012

The Slaves - Spirits of the Sun

An album review is a very important piece of writing. Some records just don't get the exposure that they rightly deserve due to an unfavourable write-up or inaccurate description of it's sound. The annals of music history are littered with records which are now considered to be classics, but were critically panned at their time of release leading to commercial failure. However, sometimes a review manages to capture the sound and feel of an album perfectly which causes a bypass of the 'preview' mechanism and leads straight to the 'purchase' reflex.

The opening sentence of this album's review on Boomkat ran as follows; "...reminiscent of Grouper with a brutal, doom-stricken underbelly that at turns sounds like My Bloody Valentine, Sunn O))) and Slowdive." Being a huge fan of each of these four groups I immediately went on the hunt for Spirits of the Sun but was disappointed to find that it had only been issued on vinyl. A few weeks later, Digitalis saw fit to make it available digitally and so I downloaded it without delay.

First track '111' begins with a damaged chorale of female vocals supplied by Barbara Kinzle and is joined by an abrasive swell of guitar which completely swamps the track toward the end. The vocal incantations make a brief return before segueing into 'River' which stretches out the billowing guitar modulations for almost ten minutes. 'The field' casts a slightly more brooding shadow as it utilises a series of ominous chords but everything is just a build-up to the album's longest piece, 'Born Into Light'. The track uses more vocal harmonies, this time a combination of male and female timbres which are run through with shimmering drones. At around the five minute mark, Birch Cooper's guitar starts to surface once more and gradually throws up suffocating clouds of distortion, increasing in volume and intensity as the track progresses.

So, was that review an accurate summing up of this incredible debut? Well, I can see where each of the aforementioned bands' influences may be drawn from but that's nowhere near the full picture in my opinion. I'd also have to mention the work of Popol Vuh, Flying Saucer Attack and Stars of the Lid as additional points of reference. Ultimately though, this is a record which easily transcends it's obvious influences and, using only a limited set of sounds creates something utterly beautiful which is more than deserving of your attention.

Head over to the Digitalis Bandcamp site to purchase the digital download, a vinyl version is still available.

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