Benevento’s many attractions include The Arch of Trajan, The Church of Santa Sofia, Rocca dei Rettori Castle, The gothic church of San Francesco alla Dogana, and more importantly, experimental outfit 23 And Beyond The Infinite. You may remember them from their 2020 album Elevation To The Misery which a certain someone (ahem, me) reviewed for The Shaman, well they are back with a new full-length Lumen Del Mundo. This latest effort marks their fourth album to date and sixth release overall, not bad for a band who have only been going since 2012.
With no disrespect to their previous output, the artwork looks a lot more mature this time around with the psychedelic inclinations of yesteryear toned down, perhaps indicative of a newfound seriousness in both approach and sound, the promo notes in fact mention that they ‘remain faithful to its imprint, their sound became more immediate and cutting edge… as well as a new compositional inspiration’. Another key development is members of the band forming the Dirty Beach label, perhaps further demonstrative of the band’s desire to play by their own rules and not be answerable to anybody but themselves, perhaps following in the tradition of legendary labels such as Neurot and SST.
Infinite #23 opens the album in a manner that recalls the discordance of Sonic Youth circa Daydream Nation with a few twisted psychedelic surf flourishes thrown in for good measure. Barely hitting the three-minute mark, this is a bright and breezy infectious opener. Knives starts with a cool as fuck bassline before descending into the sort of awesome expansive Morricone desert rock that I’ve been hearing of late from Betty Benedeadly, Cortège as well as pioneers Yawning Man. There were also sounds present that brought to mind ‘80s outfits such as Cruzados and X who too toyed with aspects of outlaw country.
The oddly named Surfin’ Clogs (which sounds like it could have been titled by the eccentric Robyn Hitchcock) had one thinking of the darkness of surf-punks Agent Orange (Living In Darkness) while Horsedance (the first single from the record) is rather accurately described by American Pancake as being ‘a blend of ‘O’ Sees, iconic L.A. punk band X, Duane Eddy, spaghetti westerns and an imaginary Quentin Tarantino flick on high’. With respect to the Tarantino reference, there is definitely a cinematic undertone present.
a cool as fuck bassline before descending into the sort of awesome expansive Morricone desert rock…
As the halfway mark hits, we are met by Chemical Love Bomb which has you thinking Tito and Tarantula’s After Dark from Dusk Till Dawn. Like that track, it’s sexy and sultry yet with an undercurrent of impending danger. Disappeared Smiling Sun by contrast is a lot more direct with an early ‘80s California punk sound prominent ala the aforementioned Agent Orange, but also The Plugz and The Dead Kennedys.
Dark Sunset throws you for a stylistic loop with a beginning that has you thinking ‘70s prog but then descends into something a lot darker and post-punk/goth laden. If the idea of Nektar jamming with Christian Death/The Cure has you gripped (like it has me) then you will adore this jam. Not To Touch The Earth concludes the album with traces of early Public Image Limited, (especially vocally). Like PIL it has a hypnotic, trance like quality and demonstrates that while the band for the main have adopted a musically more direct route, they haven’t abandoned experimentation altogether.
Lumen Del Mundo marks a band who have become a lot more musically tight and focused; it ideally serves as a gateway album for those interested in delving into their somewhat sizeable catalogue yet maybe unsure where to start.
Scribed by: Reza Mills