Wednesday 12 January 2011

Envious Of The Dark

I mentioned last week that And So I Watched You From Afar finished off the year in the US supporting Envy on a string of Stateside shows. And although Recitation has been out for a while, I thought it rated a mention, as well as a small discussion on Envy itself.

If you havent had the pleasure of hearing Envy before, then when you do it is likely to be something of a shock. There is no easy way to define this Japanese act - they are not Post-Rock really, due to Tetsuya Fukagawa's rasping screams and balls to the wall fury of noise; yet they are not Hardcore, as much of their sound (and Fukagawa's spoken word moments) is orchestral in scope somewhat like their brethren, Mono. Instead they traverse the uneasy territory between the two, creating music that is as beautiful as it is dark and terrifying - and yet somehow it works, really really well. Think of the Japanese heavyweights - the aforementioned Mono, or Boris - and Envy eclipse them in their visceral energy, yet match them in elegance. Never has darkness and light been straddled so openly, and with the ultimate of respect. The screamo style vocals can upset some - those used to singing as opposed to screaming I guess - and it is jarring at first, especially as its in Japanese therefore more indecipherable than usual. But it is a part of the whole, and once you accept that, it is an exhilarating ride these guys take you on...

Recitation, Envy's sixth full length album, opens even more elegantly than usual, thus lulling you into a gentle repose before 'Last Hours of Eternity' implodes in a white ball of fury. 'Rain Clouds Running In A Holy Night' is a more traditional Envy tune, being 8 minutes long and incorporating all that Ive previously mentioned, but also there is an element of bewilderment when the strains of 'The First Noel' are used in the quieter moments... And again there are some lightning quick tracks, like 'Your Hand' and 'Incomplete' - but these tracks work as quiet, emotive maelstroms, not the brutal physical kind. Recitation both adheres to and plays with the conventions that they have created as the Envy sound - a punk band with the requisite energy and zeal, but steeped in the moody atmospherics of creating orchestral walls of noise. Im not sure if this surpasses any of their previous releases - but it is pretty fucking awesome nonetheless.

As per usual, Recitation is out now on Mogwai's Rock Action Records.

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