Now I’m sorry but this is just incredibly frustrating – a band comes to the table with a lengthy biography, extensive details on the band members’ past activities and some bold pronouncements of blending post rock, shoegaze and doom. Sounds promising does it not? So for the resolutely demo-level soundscape of the title track to assail the ears from the off in a slew of clipping, ‘direct-to-desk’ guitar distortion, reedy monotonous vocals and obviously programmed drums (using the most basic of samples), disappointment is the only reaction possible. Not quite the ‘blinding sea of pain’ promised in the biography but a distinct let-down for sure.
It is very odd – the band make a big deal of the release being mixed by Fabio Fraschini who has worked with Novembre and Arctic Plateau (amongst others) – however I cannot realistically conceive of a professional putting their name to the sound on this opener. It is deeply underwhelming, made worse by the plodding sub-Jesu nature of the song itself which is compositionally unengaging, pedestrian and amateurish. Bedroom-level stuff, frankly.
And then we hit the second track ‘Spheres’ and it’s as if we are listening to a different band – the instrumentation glitters, the soundscape is rich with emotive, layered vocals, prog-tinged keyboards, dynamic bass and tasteful, organic percussion. Airy and soaring, it’s an impressive and uplifting piece demonstrating a band with real talent.
It is also SO OBVIOUSLY recorded in a different session it is almost unbelievable that the two tracks have been placed side-by-side. It’s clear to me ‘Spheres’ is the whole live band recording in an actual studio whilst the title track has been cobbled together on someone’s PC – and probably by only one or two of the band members, given the lumpen quality of the playing.
The third (and final) track is simply four minutes of shoegazey guitar noodling that once again, has a suspiciously home-recorded quality to it. Pleasant enough I guess, if rather throwaway.
A deeply odd release. An album of material in the vein of the second track would be very interesting and suggests the band could well be onto something – the rest of this three-tracker is eminently forgettable however and as a release in and of itself, Karma Anubis is somewhat thin to say the least. Very puzzling indeed.
(5/10 Frank Allain almost entirely due to the middle track).