Sons of Alpha Centauri – the Post Rock Scarlet Pimpernels from Kent (20 shows in 12 years – that is Darkthrone like) have released a new collection. Carrying on from last year’s Continuum, Buried Memories is a collection of mesmerizingly melodic and crushingly heavy instrumentation .
If that wasn’t enough to get your ears salivating and your rib cage thumping the Sons have drafted in Industrial godfather Justin Broadrick and the king of Gloom Khanate’s James Plotkin to play around with, remix and collaborate.
Broadrick does so with Side A of this release putting his various stamps on the haunting “Hitmen”.
The first track is under his “church” name Justin K Broadrick, which I am guessing is a fairly clean affair – not having heard the original source material. The track is a mind-bending mix of staccato beats and riffs intertwined with dreamy guitars and bass which rise and fall like aural fireworks before crushing bass is joined by electronics and post rock noise. The track builds, wave upon wave ending with a grungy metallic chug that should probably be the outro to some fantastic new Scandi mystery series.
Next Jesu is given the knobs to twiddle and the bass is notched down in tone and up in volume with some heart-wrenching synthesized strings. Beatific and melancholy the chug and riffs have been bled out and the electronic heart of the track remains with electro cymbals splashing like a sea made of 0’s and 1’s.
So to JK Flesh. I can only think how much Justin Broadrick must think of the Sons to tackle a track under three different guises. As would be expected Hitmen given the JK Flesh treatment is stark and more angry than the ethereal electronic pop of the Jesu mix. It is still stuffed with melody – how could it not be SOAC bring melody and beauty in abundance. This track has heavy Gothic overtones in both the overbearing feel of the tracks structure which looms like a grand foreboding castle over the listener and the layering of the Simon Gallup style bassline under the scratchy electronica. True cybergoth without the whistles and glowsticks.
Onto side B which sees the aforementioned collaboration with James Plotkin . First up is Warhero, a 10 minute post rock ( I still don’t like that term) behemoth. There are elements of Prog in the time signatures reminding me of Porcupine Tree as well as Mogwai. The drums provided by Stevie B are toight loike a tiger whilst original Sons Marlon King and Nick Hannon duel their thin and thick stringed instruments over the top. The mysteriously monikered Blake adds electronic textures to the beast , and what a beast it is. The riff crunches through in the final third is an earcrusher, surely depicting the final battle of the eponymous war-hero before they peter out in a death knell of electronics and feedback .
What follows must be their epitaph. “Remembrance” is a crushing slab of solemnity that alternates between eerie sombre chords and brutal sludge riffs. Like the sound of a grave being filled in by an industrial digger piloted by a Victorian gent.
Mister Plotkin has joined Sons of Alpha Centauri to remix SS Montgomery which appeared on the band’s debut album. What was first a gentle building nautical dreamy track is given a harsh space noise face lift. The intro is mimicked by harsh electronics and the drums crash in backed by hacked up fuzz. I went back and listened to the original and this is one delightful hatchet job! So much dirtiness in one track. The soaring guitars are still their but they are buried under a graveyard of wires, motherboards, engine oil and sparking fuses that are set to ignite and engulf the band in toxic flames . This is the sound of C3PO’s nightmares! Ending with some backwards jiggery-pokery just for gits and shiggles .
I for one am gonna go check out more by SOAC , revist my Broadrick collection and delve once more into Mister Plotkin and his recorded and produced works after this sextet of thought provoking tracks. Unsettling and soothing, uncomfortable yet comforting. This was a trip….man.
(8/10 Matt Mason)