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ABYSS X

Composed, produced and arranged by Evangelia VS, the artist behind Abyss X, ‘Freedom Doll’ is the culmination of a year of emotional unloading through songwriting, offering an introspective journey into the ocean of her mind. Produced andorded between an artist residency near the Mayan jungle in Mexico and her Berlin home, the album chronicles transformations the performer tackled mentally during the writing process, tracing the rollercoaster of falling in love during the pandemic, as well as the pleasures and tribulations of womanhood.
‘Freedom Doll’ encapsulates the romantic escapade between her voice and the guitar. The amalgamation of seduction, sexual tension, vulnerability and assertiveness pulses throughout the entirety of the album, spiraling out of the cracks spawned from her vocal chords. From the twirling dance between her lush harmonies and the progressions of the acoustic guitar in tracks such as ‘Ascend’ and ‘From Hot to Cold’, to the explosive confrontation between the metallic and operatic qualities of her voice, the searing sound of the electric guitar in industrial rock / psychedelic anthems such as ‘Torture Grove’ and ‘Banyana’ and the cathartic momentum found in the gospel inclined chants in ‘A CHEW’ - ‘Freedom Doll’ untethers the dramatics and theatricality that defines Abyss X’s vocal performance and music production, while maintaining the sensual vibrations of her creative essence.

‘Freedom Doll’ is the encapsulation of the Minoan woman, the elusive harlequin tiptoeing her way through the circus of terror that is living and loving her way through womanhood. With this visual reference, Abyss X pays tribute to her ancestors and their groundbreaking ancient artistry. The back cover of the vinyl features a reiteration of depictions of bulls leaping found in Minoan frescoes; an inherently male cultural act that in the ancient Minoan times presumably gave expression to a tension that underlies man's somewhat tenuous mastery of nature. ‘Freedom Doll’’s artwork challenges this preconceived notion through an eco-feminist approach, bringing the Minoan woman slash Gaia in the seat of the bull leaper, taming the unhinged and predominantly male earth - threatening human force. 


STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: Another week another alluring and mystic synth-pop masterpiece from the outlying AD93 label. Abyss X has a yearning, pop sensibility which in my ears at least, has a little bit of Christine & The Queens about it. Not all the way through though - sometimes she dives down the industrial synth wormhole with completely contrasting results.

TRACK LISTING

A1 - Ascend
A2 - A Chew
A3 - Torture Grove
A4 - Oceans Of Heat
A5 - Vacuum (feat. Juliana Huxtable)
B1 - From Hot To Cold
B2 - This Strange Asylum
B3 - Banyana
B4 - Feeling A Type Away
B5 - Never Apart (feat. Juliana Huxtable)

Creep Show

Yawning Abyss

    In the five years since Creep Show’s acclaimed ‘Mr Dynamite’ album was released it’s fair to say that we’ve all been through a fair bit. Sat here, in 2023, things don’t seem to be getting any better. There's the cost of living crisis and political meltdowns; we're in deep water with global warming and to top it all there’s a war on our doorstep.

    Back in 2018 everything seemed less complicated. Sure, there was stuff to get riled about, but we knew nothing about what was to come. ‘Mr Dynamite’ was a fairground ride into the dark corners of a world that was on the brink of being blitzed in a blender. It was a record teetering on the edge. Five years down the line you’d expect the follow-up, ‘Yawning Abyss’, would double-down and bring the white-knuckled, teeth-gritted fury of the last five years to the boil. And yet…

    A quick recap? No problem. Wrangler + John Grant = Creep Show. And Creep Show? “A band of musical misfits who have found a voice or two,” says Wrangler’s Ben “Benge” Edwards, whose Bond villain studio on the edge of a moorland is Creep Show Grand Central as well as home to an analogue synth arsenal that could sink ships.

    Let’s talk about the new album. What is the ‘Yawning Abyss’? You might well ask. According to Mal, it’s “a cosmic event horizon that I can see from my attic window when stand on a chair”. Yeah. Thanks. “On this album,” offers Benge, feet firmly on the floor, “Wrangler wrangled some vintage synths, mostly Roland, Moog, and the ‘Crystal Machine’ - then John Grant joined in the fun at Memetune Studios where lots of musical experiments were carried out. Then Mal and John ran off to Iceland with the master tapes and recorded a load of madcap vocals. Back at Memetune, me and Phil were left to try and make sense of it all. Which wasn’t hard because what they did in Iceland was totally magnificent.”

    Where ‘Mr Dynamite’ was menace, a melange of mangled voices, with Grant and Mallinder being heavily treated, pitched up or down, rendering their contributions largely indistinguishable, ‘Yawning Abyss’ takes a more direct approach. You hesitate to say feelgood, but there’s a skip in the step here for sure.

    The title track plays John Grant’s vocal straight. Completely. It’s good, so very good. Like ‘Axel F’ covered by Vangelis. The delicious shimmering synths of ‘Bungalow’ also plays those Grant pipes with a straight bat. ‘Matinee’ delves into darker very funky territory. With Mal upfront it comes on like ‘The Crackdown’. Choice lyric: “You are starting to breakdown / And it’s so fun for me to see / You should have thought of that / You should have come prepared / You can see what’s happening and you look a little scared”.

    So, you know, not all feelgood. But it does feel good. It’s probably best to draw your own conclusions. This is Creep Show after all.


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: I've always been a big fan of John Grant, and the dream-team of Stephen Mallinder, Benge and Phill winter of Tunng couldn't be any more perfect a fit for Grant's hypnotic vocal syrup. It's an absolute slam-dunk of an album and ends up sounding a little more like Grant's Pale Green Ghost LP (to me, a pantheon of synthesiser worship) than the also-brilliant hefty haze of their debut. Brilliant.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. The Bellows
    2. Moneyback
    3. Yawning Abyss
    4. Matinee
    5. Wise
    6. Yahtzee!
    7. Bungalow
    8. Steak Diane
    9. The Bellows Reprise

    BlackLab

    Abyss

      BlackLab ‘the dark witch doom duo from Osaka, Japan’ are poised to return with their new long playing record ‘ABYSS’. BlackLab’s first lp emerged to reviews a plenty. “BlackLab’s relentlessly bleak, feedbackdrenched and fuzz-laden take on doom/noise is as dark and mysterious as a black hole, and every bit as absorbing” CLASSIC ROCK.

      “Blacklab are awesome. Fall under their hex immediately” KERRANG

      “Raw, noisy and groove laden, an extreme, arcane force” METAL HAMMER

      The first album was a remixed collection of the band’s early tracks, a melting pot of influences as they set out to inhabit their own space. Now with ‘ABYSS’ the band are very much defining what that space is.

      Once again, the album was produced by Jun Morino in Osaka, and mixed in London by Wayne Adams (Pet Brick, Green Lung, Cold In Berlin) and is an uncompromising beast of a record. Recorded under a full moon over 3 intense days, the album has the ‘off the leash’ abandon of ‘Fun House’ era ‘Stooges’ and is marked by a fat dose of doom meets slowed down hardcore punk; filled with loud, ultra distorted guitar, and yet, a surprising amount of melody as well. In fact, Yuko has said that the band’s name is a combination of Black Sabbath and Stereolab, well here on ‘Abyss’ is where that strange mix begins to make musical sense. The band haven’t lost their love of lo-fi or ‘Riot Grrrl’ attitude. The guitars are loud and heavily gnarled to the point of chaos.

      Vocals go from shoegaze melodic to hardcore screams (in fact rarely has a vocalist in this genre screamed so musically as Yuko does) and underneath all this, Chia batters the skins, all rolling and tumbling thunder amidst the riffs. Yes there is a smattering of ‘Sabbathy Wizarding’ of course, but submerged within dark, deep fuzz and punk rock crank and grind. In truth the vibe is closer to both the arty heaviness of early Boris, and the sweet savagery of My Bloody Valentine, than any kind of ‘doom’ tropes. It’s a sound that is undoubtedly BlackLab’s own. So over 8 tracks, clocking in at around 42 mins, you get the current Blacklab world view. ‘Insanity’ creeps in with a sound familiar to doom lovers. Then over the course of eight minutes manages to motor into its own riff time continuum, fuelled by heavy fuzz, pounding drums, and vocals that run the gamut from surly, to sweet, to full on throat- shred.

      ‘Fade and Melt’ is quirky, odd even, but heavy too, marrying a sweet Japanese melody to a dense, rolling barrage of distortion. ‘Weed Dream’ is driven by chugging, barely under control guitar and grunge punk swagger, and it’s here that Yuko most obviously channels her inner Stereolab. ‘Amusement Park Of Terror’. The title sounds like some cheapo 60’s bug movie, or a grade B slasher flick from the 80’s. Well to be honest this short instrumental interlude would be the perfect soundtrack to either. Both ‘Forked Road’ and ‘Chained’ are cut from the same cloth, a mash up of ‘Stooges’ meets ‘Comets On Fire’ mayhem and loping Sleep - esque riffs. ‘Sleepless Night’ is all throbbing distortion and understated threat, albeit with a curiously catchy chorus and coda. Then you have ‘Sun’ an underscore to any number of nihilistic apocalypses. It crashes in with a guitar tone so huge it’ll threaten to demolish your speakers. Abyss is an album that is as raw and alive as it gets. It’s refreshingly free of artifice, and it doesn’t arse around. Say hello to the Osaka underground.

      TRACK LISTING

      1. Insanity
      2. Fade And Melt
      3. Weed Dream
      4. Amusement Park Of Terror Side 
      5. Forked Road
      6. Chained
      7. Sleepless Night
      8. Sun


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