Atlantikwall – ‘Anura‘
Reeling out of the zeitgeist, the second album from Atlantikwall presents an (un)timely reminder of the ruinous folly of fortified borders –ever destined to regress into the deformed remnants of ideological excess.
The album revels in layers of animalistic, braying, frog-calling guitars that form lurching texture puzzles that stagger and collapse around cyclical-shift drum patterns and primitivist grooves. These foundations harbour fragmented vocal chants, congealing into elongated songs that address themes of last-ditch reproduction in the face of impending extinction; resource wars fought by farmers in lands encroached by desertification; reinstatement of human sacrifice as response to environmental catastrophe; lone refugee journeys and modern-day wall-building as psychic splitting.
Limited to 50 copies, each including a download code (also available separately from bandcamp).
Based as it is on Ynys Môn (aka the Welsh island of Anglesey), Sivilised Recordings continues to sound like it’s rather channeling music from another goddamn galaxy. The fifth tape on the imprint is the second by Atlantikwall – one of this column’s favourite tapes way back in 2016 – and the unnamed musician(s) under the guise do exceed expectations with a cosmic slop of tribal psych-noise invocations. The core ingredients of a battered drum circle of endlessly looping percussive bashes, furry guitars, and general pedal scuzz remain thoroughly intact. The vocals however, are put into firmer focus. They’re brought forward in the mix and (somewhat) unmuddied, the stories being told inside these tracks also pulling into focus. They tell doomy tales of “reproduction in the face of impending extinction” or “resource wars fought by farmers in lands encroached by desertification”. Third track, ‘Bone Shoots’ event seems to suggest reinstating human sacrifice to try and get the environment back on-side. (This is not endorsed by this column, might I add. Not yet anyway.)
These trippy DIY acid noise rock rituals loop and drone and batter away with intent, pushed into long jams of desperate wailing and gloopy fuzzed out mulch – nonetheless very fun too still. The Master Musicians Of Dyffryn Moor is a similarly anonymous and rural outfit, battering drums against the apocalypse, and located some 100 miles down the Welsh coast in Pembrokeshire. Both Atlantikwall and TMMODM seem to embody a hopefully infectious and very much near-magic (and very Welsh, even when sung in English) approach to music-making. For all its heaviosity and apocalyptic imagery, Atlantikwall’s boundless psychedelic tribalism feels a rugged musical theatre of hope.
— Tristan Bath
Welsh tape-slinging sorcerers, SIVILISED, have lined us up with a really great pair of tapes to get lost in, and I humbly suggest enjoying them back to back as I have for the past week or so!
Onus’s “Survival Burden” starts out with the mood of some wizard captain’s hazy tale of sailing seas of fog and seductive miasma-burned-aura, his declarations weaving violently back and forth between manic and stoic, the baritone guitar work and bass lines independently choking the atmosphere further, the ritualistic percussive mantras flirting with overwhelming fervor; make no mistake, Onus know how to kick out some seriously thick grooves and still keep on an ambient tip, still urge the mind to wander a thousand distant shores while still being spellbound by their tidal pull.
Enter into this equation Atlantikwall’s “Anura”, a palpably sweat-palmed conjuring pose, a blitzkrieg of alarm clock persistence, bleating disembodied organisms half-orgasming in electrically syncopated throes of bliss and confusion. Between these two bands, a spirit-DNA is shared around post-punk aesthetic, the desire to maul your mind into submission (one through enchantment, the other with melodic estrangement), and just outright being reminded how goddamn good the 90s were for East Coast/Midwestern (USA) indie bands like June of 44, Lungfish, & any number of Louisville visionaries!
These two cassettes come in sexy O-Cards with understated printing and are Well Worth the effort to listen to on a repeated cycle for many a day. Headphones or not, separate or together, they’re a series of R-E-A-L trips!
— Jacob An Kittenplan
Winner of the coveted ’69’ position in The Quietus’ best albums of 2016 list
Like the weird zoomorphic concrete bunkers crouched along the North European littoral from which the name is lifted, Atlantikwall tracks are looming, colossal structures, moulded out of guitar density overload, atavistic rhythms and cyclical chants.
A tape of two halves: one side vocal the other instrumental, with songs constructed on a bedrock of overlapping loops and skeletal, primitivist drumming; the gradual heave of tectonic phase shifts opening up strange fissures of churning organic textures. On top of these foundations we find the stroboscopic buzzsawing guitars of ‘Constellation’, interlocking arpeggios subsumed into billowing tonal smears in ‘Passage Colours’, the unmoored feedback of ‘Downriver’ snaking through alien FX fauna and the psychedelic afrobeatesque noise of ‘Duneskin’ juggernauting into the sun.
Digital download available from Bandcamp
Out via a new tape label based on the island of Anglesey (or Ynys Môn) called Sivilised, this self-titled collection of long form lo-fi tribalism is anything but. It’s the sort of record you’d find halfway down the rabbit hole of the Nurse With Wound list, seemingly impossible to attribute to a mortal from this dimension. A bedrock of looped simplistic drum figures and confused guitarscapes battle it out with all manner of overlapping gloop and – on the first side of the tape – half-murmured chant-like vocals. The artist has clearly overlapped way too many takes, but it has the effect of adding weight to the five colossal tracks on offer (rather than burying their key elements in a confused haze). ‘Rebuild The City Lies’ opens with a kind of confused song of relatively complicated multitracked singing somewhere between King Sunny Ade and Mark E Smith. To clarify, this is no lo-fi, outsider project. The artist behind Atlantikwall is an intensely clever arranger, and each of the 10-minute plus tracks builds and shifts with a keenly thought out logic, occasionally parting the sea of criss-crossing textures and chanting for a perfectly placed guitarpeggio.
Side two’s instrumentals are arguably more focused, and somewhat less weirdly joyful. ‘Downriver’ spends 12-minutes slowly marching drums, feedback, and piercing synth tones, sounding like Jad & David Fair covering Teeth Of Lions Rule The Divine in their bedroom, and winding up as engrossing as a La Monte Young outing. ‘Duneskin’ closes the album with 20 minutes of higher energy beats that slowly grow and shift behind a barely changing set of repetitive guitar fuzz and gloopy keyboard mud. The billowing shards of amplifier noise and psychedelic sounds ride the funkified drumming deep over the horizon, to extremes $hit & $hine would proudly put their name on, and it’s an immense experience to follow it all the way. Five tracks of epic sprawling repetitive lo-fi percussive gloop you can nod your head to? I may have found my favourite cassette tape ever.
I was listening to this whilst doing something completely different and for some reason got it into my head that it was Death in Vegas. “This new Death in Vegas” LP is really super” I thought. The entire first half of the first side of the tape is taken over with a ten minute track called ‘Constellation’ which I can’t really explain using words. It’s brilliant, it sounds like a big jumble of Sun Ra, Throbbing Gristle, Moondog and Animal Collective. This is true cosmic music with an endless barrage of vocals which splurge over a squelshy bedrock of electronics and afro-beat drums.
Despite sounding completely different, ‘Passage Colours’ is just as great. It starts gently with watery Sonic Youth styled guitars nestling alongside concrete drones but then in come vocals leading to the sort of thing you’d imagine Fat White Family would sound like if you had never listened to them and just read press blurb.
Elsewhere we get a kind of stumbling Thinking Fellers style sonic slop before the tape finishes off with two instrumental tracks, the first of which is a droning instrumental piece which leads to the closer ‘Duneskin’ which has flanging disorientating effects which kind of remind me of Can ‘Future Days’ being reworked by Factory Floor.
It’s interesting stuff this, the vocal tracks are particularly effective and if you think that the likes of Goat and Animal Collective are not as far out there than you might wish these days then you need to check this out. Lots of music too, so much music.