Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Black Submarine - New Shores

Black Submarine
New Shores

Released 2014 on Self-Released
Reviewed by Graveyard Poet, 02/04/2014ce

Fading in with amorphous, growling feedback, the rumbling approaches of ominous thunder, "Black Submarine" kicks into gear with a low end, grinding beat, inky black underwater trip hop with the title chanted over and over in the midst of the buzzing haze and violinist Davide Rossi and vocalist Amelia Tucker lost at sea, alternately reciting the deja vu phrase "I've been here before."

"Here So Rain" similarly gradually fades in with the spinning sounds of distant decayed feedback before a delicate keyboard arpeggio, raindrops falling, ushers in another deep bass beat and complex soundscape. Amelia's warning "The storm is going to break" is conveyed in stark, intense sonic blueprints as the insistent violin and guitar duel with each other over a marching beat which then drops out to the violin's solo psalm, a graceful series of notes which uncurl like clouds of smoke, and then it's full speed ahead back into the chaotic turbulence.

"Heart First" is very dense--Amelia's vocals are buried inside the storm cloud from the previous track, the dramatic, surging strings and rippling guitar lifting us higher and higher with each passing minute. The song fades slowly into a collapse of drifting patterns--the cloud breaking apart.

"The Love in Me" begins with an acoustic guitar electronically processed to a sharp, silver, metallic tone--a bleak post-punk rhythm drives Davide's brooding vocal with Nick McCabe's splintered shrapnel guitar summoning the gray industrial grit of Bernard Sumner ca. Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures. The guitar's fade-out resembles a slowly dying piece of factory machinery as bells echo in the distance.

"Move Me A Mountain" brilliantly follows this quartet of gunmetal gray moods with sunshine and fresh breezes on a spring day clearing the air. Amelia Tucker's vocals are earthy like Sandy Denny and her poetic lyrics of spring and harvest, innocence and aging, are timeless. Nick McCabe's pastoral acoustic arrangement recalls Fairport Convention-era Richard Thompson and Davide Rossi's sweeping string flourishes are reminiscent of Robert Kirby's orchestral work on Nick Drake's Five Leaves Left.

"Is This All We Feel" starts with seagull feedback and a Wurlitzer organ in the background playing watery notes. The mellow reflections are a return to the gray, rain-soaked regions of the first four tracks. Now the sound is ruminative rather than charged.

"Everything That Happened to Me Is You" has a shivering, ghostly fade in with crystalline bells accenting the deep, slow-motion atmospheres. Davide's and Amelia's cathedral vocals and Nick's cinematic production combine to create a sad and haunting song.

"Lover" is sung by both Davide and Nick's daughter Elly. It's a beatific shoegaze ballad which would not have sounded out of place on Slowdive's Souvlaki.

"Heavy Day" opens midway through a jam in progress, it's another dense song like "Heart First". There's another intriguing transition between tracks as bells and the sounds of people walking around on a city street segues into the closer.

"You've Never Been Here" opens the submerged sound field into a wider horizon with a cascading ambient introduction. A galloping rhythm and Davide's/Amelia's vocals joined in unison continuously climb the steep side of the mountain as Nick's swirling effects surround the weathered cliffs in spectacular motion.

Black Submarine's debut is one of the must-hear albums of 2014.

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