Monday 12 August 2013

Review: Grim Tower - Anarchic Breezes

Grim Tower - Anarchic Breezes (Outer Battery Records)
“Anarchic Breezes” is the debut LP from Grim Tower, the Canadian duo of Stephen McBean (of Black Mountain) and Imaad Wasif (collaborator with Yeah Yeah Yeahs).

The project started out as an experiment around detuned acoustic guitars. The acoustic origins are still intact yet have been expanded and overdubbed in the studio to make some tracks into full acid-folk-rock passages.

After the grumbling “Soft Séance”, complete with backward tape “Reign Down” (the highlight for me) slips into earshot with banjos and tone generators, which give off a subtle psychedelic country vibe.

The pace, often timed by the beat of a funereal drum, seems quite laborious upon first hearing but repeated listens allow the subtleties to come to the fore and although there are a few weaker tunes, it’s a likeable collection.

The dark tone that Grim Tower are aiming for (having been assigned the sub-genre "New Acoustic Death Folk" by some) is possibly undermined by the lyrics which, depending on your tastes, are a slightly cringe-worthy amalgam of fantasy, whimsy, cod metaphor and post ‘60s countercultural cliché. That the album’s title track is the only instrumental may be testament to this, and indicates how the forging of the musical modes of past and present can work brilliantly – it’s a great track, in the Espers tradition of new acid folk.

If you can tolerate or enjoy tales detailing the “mythical forests”, “cosmic passageways”, “fabled city in the sky” or “vast magnetic fortress” or can freely join in with the “get high” rally of (the otherwise very likeable) “All the Beautiful Things” then go for it!

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