Another year and another Dead Sea Apes album, each one seemingly different in approach and each one worthy of your time. It might be an obvious thing to write, but there is a lot of music about and no one has enough time to listen to it all, let alone write about it… and I’m the first to admit that I can easily fail to keep up with bands if they don’t vary their output… Dead Sea Apes always seem to vary their output and I’m really happy to Premiere this one.
It comes as no surprise, therefore, that ‘Night Lands’ is once again different from what has gone before, as guitarist Brett Savage explains:
It’s normal procedure for us to record all of our rehearsals, as much to listen back to our set – or, as is often the case, if we start jamming, we have a record of what we are doing. A few of our album recordings have come from things that have captured the moment. On this particular evening, it was the first rehearsal of Jack [Toker] on Bass. Al [Reid], on keys, had been with us for a few months too. Also into the mix, I had Nik Rayne from The Myrrors and Naujawanan Baidar staying at my house over December . So, after we’d put Jack through his paces on some DSA material, we all decided to have a jam, which is what came out here.
Rayne also appears on two tracks of the Apes’ last album ‘The Free Territory‘, but the process of how these recordings have come to vinyl means that they feel like more fluid expressions of the musicians’ art, Savage again:
Improvisation has always been a big thing for DSA. I think that The Myrrors perhaps have a similar approach to us, so Nik was on fairly familiar ground too. The idea for the album is mostly after the fact. We never intended it to be anything other than a jam in the ‘here and now’. Having had it recorded, it was really enjoyable to listen back to, but youre never quite sure if its anyone else’s bag.
Well I think that I can safely say that it’s certainly my bag, and I think that the very fact that the tracks on this album were never really meant to be released somehow adds to the experience… a glimpse inside a personal recording space… of people riffing for their own enjoyment.
The three tracks here also feel quite different from each other. Kicking of with ‘No Friends But The Mountains’, this is a relatively quiet slow-burner of a track, one that builds through almost microscopic increments, and in doing so both lulls you into a zoned-out state while also gently pulling you along… it’s quite space-like in the way it does this… but space walking rather than powering through galaxies… here the destination feels unknown and that hardly matters a jot… a marvellously nebulous number.
After that comes the title track, which, from the very start, those who are aware of his work will immediately spot Rayne’s influence… that wonderfully arid sound of The Myrrors appears here almost as a manifestation… a ghostly presence which haunts the track in a most wonderful way.
‘Night Lands’ seems to tighten up as it moves along… you can feel the musicians getting into each others minds and really hitting off on each other… the twin guitars of Savage and Rayne move around the sonic canvas as the overall picture takes shape… and is nothing like where you thought it would be at the beginning as it moves towards a climax.
Third, and final, track ‘A Slow Heart Beats Hard’ quickly gets into a groove with Reid’s keys leading the way after a couple of minutes, creating an altogether different atmosphere from the other numbers on the album… more eerie and sinister, this feels darker and more intense… the rest of the band providing a wall of sound, erupting in turn to take the track further into the depths.
This, then, is a really good listen… and set of recordings without any pre-meditated influences going into it, but as Savage told me:
… I think you can probably hear some of the familiar touchstones that both DSA and The Myrrors share – the more communal, jammy Krauty stuff like Amon Duul (both) etc. I can hear some Earth, some Velvets drone and perhaps some of the Bo Anders Persson-style stuff floating around…
…and if that doesn’t whet you appetite then you’re probably reading the wrong review.
Special thanks also go to DSA drummer Chris Hardman who has recorded, mixed and mastered these unique recordings into a great sounding LP.
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