Wednesday, 18 November 2009

REVIEW: Island of Raiell - Ab Initio

We’ve been tipped off about this band by good friend of NFR, Nick Keech from kraut - gaze - noise - drone outfit One Unique Signal - His sister Louise is half of the enigmatically named duo Island Of Raiell along with Angie Cheung. The pair have been in a multitude of London based post-punk, indie rock outfits (and Angie even helped pen a Brand New Heavies chart topper!) With indie credentials and bonus real life Success established, the duo are heading out into less predictable waters with their new audio-visual experimental project Island of Raiell. They have just released Ab Initio; their debut album through indie label/distributors Genepool Records as a 42 minute long single track available through iTunes for the bargain sum of £3.49.

The band insist that the album should be heard comfortably reclined, immersed in low mood lighting - but that's implicit from the opening hum; the eerie atmosphere this album exudes makes it sound like it was recorded in halflight and shadow. Anyone familiar with the kinds of resonance heavy ambient soundscapes that Deleted Scenes, Forgotten Dreams regularly throw out will find a lot to engage with during this album. Although it certainly begins with them, across it's nine individually titled movements the album quickly progresses beyond the murky abstract aquatics suggested by the cover into movements similar to the rhythmic chanting of Pocahaunted; spectral churn of Religious Knives and forlorn anthems of Kate Bush. Distant drums echo, voices surface and fade like the suggestions of ripples over heavy water. There's a dread sentiment to this story of a drowned sailor and it's sung by two sirens beckoning a wider audience toward their aquatic embrace.

We have the third section, Rock & Wave for you to download as a teaser. It features an unsettlingly slow and doomy piano lead that literally does come back later to haunt you.

DOWNLOAD: Rock & Wave

The most strikingly dramatic section to the piece arrives with Black Wave in the form of a blast of Middle Eastern horns, a crashing torrent of noise and a harsh shriek - it's a peak in violence that represents the last gasp of the central character before he slips under the waves; an event that leads towards the next highlight of the album - a choral passage titled Lie Beneath that rises from whispering ambience at around 30 minutes, then that slow, heavy-lidded grim-robed piano refrain comes back in accompanied by a backwards sounding buzzing and faint traces of reappearing choir.

It's a record designed to disturb and enchant all at once, and it succeeds with absorbingly fine attention to detail and involving yet unforced narrative structure.


DOWNLOAD: Ab Initio Part III: Rock & Wave

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