The clue’s in the band name!
If you’re looking for light, poppy, smiley-smiley, twee type music, you better look elsewhere, ‘cause London five-piece dark-wave band, THE MURDER ACT sure as hell ain’t gonna provide it!
At almost thirty-seven and a half minutes this six-track mini-album / EP actually outlasts some ‘fully fledged’ albums, and with track timings of five, six, seven and even almost ten minutes, you have to admire the band’s self -belief and daring. Effectively turning each track (barring the three-minute long and interestingly entitled ‘Repulsive Acts Of Penetrative Entertainment,’) into a bit of an ‘epic’ is a brave move. Especially with this style of music, which is sure to divide opinion at any rate.
And although I actually really like this EP, I have to concede that a couple of the tracks do outstay their welcome a little. Opening track ‘He’ll Never Have A Name’ for instance is a case in point. It starts out interestingly enough with big, dark threatening beats and bass lines competing with fuzzed guitar noise, creating a rather magnificent drone over which the vocals are dramatically half spoken / half sung. Following the instrumental break about three minutes in, the song title is sung repeatedly, with some added shouted backing. Personally, I think the impact would have been greater had it ended around this point. Absolutely nothing wrong with the extra two minutes, but I just felt my attention drifting to other matters as it played itself out.
On the other hand, the magnificent EP closer, and title track ‘Traum,’ is one that particularly lends itself to the ‘epic’ tag. It clocks in with nine minutes and forty-four seconds of slow-driving bass and hypnotic synth lines blowing in and out like the wind, rising and falling like the sea. The backing is one great big wall of sound until it drops the intensity to allow room for the Eighties styled vocals at the halfway mark. These vocals take on an exasperated, desperate and psychotic shouty form, building and building to a raging crescendo.
The difference between this and the opening track is that ‘Traum,’ seems to be headed somewhere and so the listener is prepared to wait and see where the song takes them. Truly great!
Of the other four songs, ‘Sew My Eyes’ is the longest at over seven minutes. As the title would suggest, this is a bit on the sinister side. The vocals are held back for the opening two and a half minutes, shutting down again after a further two. The remaining two and a half is an instrumental fill. So again, like the first song, I’d prefer to see this one shortened. This time though, I’d cut the intro and have the vocals enter earlier, but retain the full instrumental exit. (Does that make sense?)
Overall the mood is an amalgam of krautrock, shoegaze, industrial, punk, no-wave and electronica and it works really well. But like other bands of this ilk, I would imagine their music is best enjoyed in a scuzzy late-night Club, shrouded in puffs of dry-ice smoke reflecting strobe lighting. Even so – crack open a beer, sit back and check out the stream of ‘Traum’ below. Class!
(Self-released on Ltd Edition 12” vinyl and as a Digital Download on 25th April 2011)