May 27, 2024

Drahla – angeltape

Post Punk band Drahla focus on avant-garde and experimental elements more than most. Post, post punk may be more accurate as they somewhat redefine and disrupt the genre, especially with the outstanding saxophone playing of Chris Duffin. A ‘guest’ appearance on Drahla’s previous release, Useless Coordinates, and down as a ‘long time collaborator’ on this album, its hard to imagine Drahla going forward now without Duffin.

angeltape is, at its heart, a story of time. A story of what happens in-between albums, change, loss and tragedy. But also one of turbulence, both positive and negative as musicians and as people. Life stuff. Emotion runs through this record, and from the very first track you get a sense of this.

Like a fantastic piece of African jazz, Under The Glass opens with confusing and intense saxophone and a bagpipes like drone, before kicking in with what seems the perfect match of bass and drums and a beat that you didn’t know existed but that the Sax merges with brilliantly. Add in the almost spoken and questioning vocals of Luciel Brown and your eyes widen, the hairs stand up on your arms, and your attention is held and demanded – we’re in for a treat. Honestly, its the strongest start to an album I can remember for a very long time.

angeltape is one of those albums you can listen to and listen to. Each time you will hear something new, and as I listen to Default Parody and to an extent zig-zag, I am reminded (with tongue slightly in cheek) of Toah Dynamic. It has the same experimental cacophony which just makes sense in your mind. It shouldn’t quite work, but it really does.

Then we come to Second Rhythm and a real centrepiece for Brown’s singing, bending the notes beautifully and creating a strong emotional response in the listener, and I don’t really know where it comes from. It’s kind of how I think you’d feel if ghosts existed and one was looking at you over your shoulder. About two minutes in, the track returns to the art rock experimental and ends with the most Toah like piece of music.

Talking Radiance and Concrete Lily are carried (or maybe defined) with the nostalgic but at the same time fresh bass playing of Rob Riggs. The latter accompanied with a more traditional bit of saxophone before it ends in wonderful, clean chaos.

I’d say Lipsynch is the most post-punky track on the album, and its a compliment when I say I can’t put my finger on what or who it reminds me of – it really does remind me of music I have listened to for decades, but I can’t place it, and that is no mean feat to pull off.

A is almost joyous, but you can’t deny the angst running through it. It’s sort of angry, in a nice way. And then for the first time really, although it’s always been present in the way the music makes you feel and how it plays with your emotions, as well as in the lyrics of course, Venus is sad. It’s a short, sad song, just under two minutes but very well crafted.

The album ends with Grief in Fantasia which again starts of more traditional post punk (an oxymoron I know). It’s the longest and loudest track on the album – it demands volume. And we get a hint of Duffin’s African Jazz like sax throughout and again when accompanying Luciel Brown in her more melancholy phrases.

You can probably tell I like this album. A lot. And you should just go and buy it.

angeltape is available from Captured Tracks records, or direct from bandcamp. At the time of writing vinyl and cassette physical copies are still available.

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