06 July, 2009

Finding Nepo(tism)

I have been a negligent blogger lately (isn't that just the worst kind?). Here is something I really did mean to mention a few months ago:

In a veritable orgy of people I know and admire, Records on Ribs put out a release by All The Empires Of The World. Ned only beat me to the scoop by several months. In fact, I left it long enough that the band in question have disbanded. Next you'll tell me that they only needed one more positive review, and they would have pulled through. I don't enjoy describing music ("good/bad/post-rock" are all you need) but the EP is titled Last Rites, the opener is called Prophecy at the Ruins and the band name is 6 words long but seems to last a lifetime. The prejudiced observer should need no help from me. The EP is available as a FREE DOWNLOAD, so you should do as it says.

I will say, however, that in this world where we are trained to make the most fleeting of cyber-connections with other glimpsed human beings, where we are continually trying to replace intuition and common sense with a scientific justification, where doom used to mean doom-y but now it's just mood backwards, and where ambience is a fancy french word somewhere between decor and feng shui for people with more wallpaper expertise than ribcage, All The Empires Of The World were not a re-hash.

An example: they played a gig I was at once, sandwiched between a snazzy continental-café electro-jazz laptop/sax act and a bunch of semi-likable, semi-significant vox-guitar-bass-drums-zzzzzzzzzz nothings and the word "massacre" was not mentioned even once (any after-show incidents were unfortunate). I even caught one unsuspecting female spectator smiling, but ATEOTW do give out a lot of bass when they play live, so she may just have had a mild tetany of the face. They say it takes just 13 muscles to smile and 33 to frown; I couldn't find any data on how many are required to strip one's self of all vestment and form a writhing coil around your favourite band member. It's irrelevant anyway, All The Empires Of The World's stated aim being to destroy as many of their listener's bodily functions as possible, one by fragile one. By the midpoint of a set the only thing preventing their victims' bodies from degrading into a formless gelatinous ooze is their clothing (which Oxfam will no longer accept).

I often read about ATEOTW being cavernous or sounding like the end of the world, thunder and lightning, rains of fire, power and menace wielded on a cosmological, theological or metereological level; This is true, although I prefer to think of the processes as internalised, dramatised processes of self, which in any case better fits with the primal vibe my ears detect. There's an opaque mysticism in play that seems to fit in with images of a raw and nascent earth. Having listened through many times now, I hear a sort of anti-spiritualism deeply rooted in human actors, an arcane architecture of ceremonies ill-understood from the outside. It's like medieval Europe as interpreted by Cormac McCarthy. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the opening bars of Simon Helen Elizabeth (The Gate) which bring to mind valleys, light mist and coronation - not unlike The Lion King, but no doubt with more robes. Later, this track becomes more triumphant still, hitting an emphatic wall of rhythm, guitar and subverted vocals that's eerily reminiscent of The Angelic Process.

Also moving through several phases, opener Prophecy At The Ruins covers a lot of ground, sounding initially distant and working its way to the foreground. Although their reputation for overbearing volume may go before them, Last Rites has phases that mark it out as a pleasingly melodic EP. There is a somewhat distant feel to much of the 25-minute span, feeling more like a sighting of the godhead on the horizon, and less like Ragnarok erupting in one's cochlea. ...Will Be Laid To Waste is certainly very grand, and forms a towering end to proceedings. This record sounds like the music Jesu should be making right now. Yeah, you should get this.

Now, on to the important bit. The record is released on Records On Ribs, a web-label run by some Nottingham people. All their releases are available as free downloads, and you should peruse the site. But here is the link for this one: All The Empires Of The World - Last Rites EP.

If you like this, you should already have been listening to older ATEOTW stuff like the more acoustic Coral EP or the rather long Magnetic Resonance, and I would happily vouch for both. We are to anticipate one final release from the band, which will be worth waiting for, no doubt. Maybe one can take solace from the fact that this opens up the possibility of liberated members joining your new ambient post-ska/metal ragga project.

You should go further. The releases by Strap The Button, El Heath and Sweet Potato are excellent, so be sure to check them out. But more than anything, get Les √Čtoiles' incredibly evocative Never To Alight, which was one of the best albums released anywhere last year.

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