Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Black Submarine - Kurofune EP

Black Submarine
Kurofune EP

Released 2011 on Self-Released
Reviewed by Graveyard Poet, 27/05/2011ce

Nick McCabe and Simon Jones resurrected kosmische musik in the pop culture wasteland that was the 1990s (brought on by the pop culture wasteland that was the 1980s and, some might say, the pop culture wasteland that was the late 1970s.)

As four elements exist (fire, air, earth, water), so exist 4 main forces in music: harmony, melody, rhythm, texture. Some bands focus on one of these to the detriment of the others while some are able to keep these in a precarious balance yet lose that audacity of vision which makes music so exciting in the first place.

Texture is the least instrumental and most experimental aspect of music. As countless rock critics opined, you can't notate the tone Hendrix or other innovators created on a scale. How does it sound so fiery? Countless blues/blooze rockers imitated but could never duplicate. Countless post-punk/goth bands imitated but never duplicated the detached cold bleakness of Joy Division.

Enter the realm of texture. Production is key in whether or not music is merely something to dance, sing, or shout along to or is an entirely different world one can enter.

Of course, overproducing (as happened in prog and most of the clipped, overly compressed popular music of today) ruins the entire ethos of texture in music in the first place: mood is inspired by atmosphere which is surrounded by spaces of silence and ambiance.

This was missing from the music of the 1980s/1990s and Nick McCabe, like Mark Hollis and his companions when they entered the deserted church to begin work on Spirit of Eden (and damn the record company and the consequences), understood this subtle power of texture, hence the spellbinding and otherworldly guitar of the Verve's debut A Storm in Heaven.

You can hear the influences of the beautiful impressionism of Debussy, the cascading cosmic minimalism of Michael Rother and Manuel Gottsching in Nick's approach towards music making.

The rhythm is important, though, too, and Simon Jones digs deep into the best of the bass repertoire, northern soul and gritty funk, the influences clearly heard in his signature sculpted grooves and echoed pulses.

After years of struggle between this emphasis on texture/rhythm and a trend towards a more mainstream melodic sense, their band the Verve split and then reconvened for a reunion album which was ultimately watered down, a disappointment since McCabe and Jones weren't able to truly spread their wings in the studio.

The new band Black Submarine, with violinist Davide Rossi and drummer Mig Schillace, builds upon these strengths of McCabe and Jones while moving the music further into a futuristic horizon. An evolution has definitely taken place.

The concluding jam of opener "Rain Down On Me" is a gathering storm which Rossi's violin curlicues over in descending strokes, forks of lightning. The hypnotic instrumental "Dawn Till Dusk" similarly moves in an exploratory route, starting quietly with field recordings of birds in a city park before adding layers of electronic intrigue, the incessant pattern the image of industrial machinery in the midst of swirling clouds and struggling greenery. The closer of the EP, "Northern Rock", is a timely message against the new world order and surges on an insistent blocky beat, daring in its visionary energy, hitting home and taking it to the streets.

Reviews Index