Improv drone merchants Pelt deliver a new album which further solidifies their self proclaimed title of New Weird America.
Pelt have been around for a while and to be honest, most of the time you know exactly what to expect from them. They make deep, textural drone music with a folky tinge and now they have a new album out. It’s not ground breaking and it’s not really new territory for them but that doesn’t matter. They do what they do and they’ve managed to perfect their craft. Effigy is a really dense, rewarding listen.
Here we have over an hours worth of rich drone music that you can simply get lost it. It’s relaxing at times, just being lulled into the drone but also has a sinister and unnerving feel. Take opening track ‘Of Jacks Dabari” for example. As I sit listening to it I feel myself on the edge of my seat in an almost anxious panic. There’s a very unsettling, dark mood present throughout which I’m worried is going to erupt into something horrifically frightening, but it doesn’t. There’s no need to use any huge dynamical changes to affect the mood like so many other musicians rely on. It’s the subtle nuances in the music that manage to convey such a strong emotional feel without really doing much at all.
What really makes this stand out from the mountains of other drone music are the rich textures created through diverse and often bizarre instrumentation. Sure, they have their standard violins and cymbals, but there’s also the more diverse prayer bowls to add that extra flavour. I love the idea that Pelt are trying to get luscious sounds out of everything and they do it so well. It takes a keen ear to identify exactly what’s making all of the sounds that are flowing round. I mean I’ve listened to it five or six times now and I’m still struggling to identify or even relate to some of the things I’m hearing. It makes it sort of otherworldly I guess. Yes, I’m sure I could do a bit of research, find out and brag to my friends about my diverse musical instrument knowledge but they wouldn’t care and neither do I. I don’t want to understand Pelt, I just want to sit back and enjoy them.
I have, in fact, recently had the chance to catch them play live at Newcastle’s wonderful Tusk Festival. (http://tuskfestival.com) Seeing Pelt live made me appreciate the music on offer so much more. It’s difficult to put into words how utterly captivating this music is in a live setting. Just watching as they slowly evolve the most miniscule sounds to completely engross an entire room of people. If you get a chance to see them live, don’t pass it up. But if you can’t, listen to Effigy. There’s no way you can match the experience of sharing a room with their music, but you can close your eyes and try to imagine.
Effigy is out now on MIE music. Check out the album and the other treats this label has on offer because both are absolutely fantastic.
-- Craig Johnson, Louder Than War