The concepts of Singles Clubs always seem like such a good idea in principle, but much of the time there’s a drop-off in terms of pulling power and quality that leaves those who got in for the long haul feeling short-changed. We’re not even half-way through God Unknown’s Singles Club, yet thankfully there’s not even a hint of slowdown. Carlton Melton’s Harbinger can best be described as a lumbering fuzzosaurus of a track, a riff that is embellished and gradually built upon in the same way that if something moves slowly enough, moss will eventually start to accumulate, yet it never shifts from its mighty path. It doesn’t sound particularly huge, or even imposing, but there is an undeniable presence that depicts its power better than volume ever could. Guitars hum and moan with only the steady pound of drums to keep them marching and brief bursts of low-end warmth as beacons to guide them, and when shifts start to emerge, they don’t overpower the listener, they only deepen Harbinger’s inexorable pull. As warbling synth bobs to the surface and guitars rise to a gradual scream, it’s not far from that infinitely looping sense of purpose that is the song’s raison d’etre.
Astraeus couldn’t be further from this. What could have been a standard, fuzz-heavy throwback to 70s rock standards is, in Mind Mountain’s able hands, a dynamic monster, fuelled by cheap speed and bleeding fingers. It’s almost cinematic in its colossal scale, with a bubbling, jazzily undulating main riff reminiscent of Yoko Kanno’s heavier scores and a tense synthesised intermission that’s a Fabio Frizzi fan’s wet dream (or worst nightmare, depending on their stance). It shares only its instrumental nature with Carlton Melton’s offering, but while Harbinger’s voicelessness was a necessary tool to stress its rhythmic superiority, in this case it’s more that it would have been too much of a distraction. It would have pulled attention away from the deftness of Joe Hirons’ licks, or his impeccably-orchestrated mid-song set piece. Right up to the wire, it keeps you honed in on its hurricane of sound, the piercing tremolo and clamorous snare rolls exerting a fierce stranglehold, and though it’s a close call, it’s these moments that are this release’s strongest, and most memorable.
Whether the Singles Club will keep up the compare-and-contrast nature of its releases thus far and, if it does, whether it will be able to keep up this calibre is something of a risky bet to take, but if it can pull it off, it stands to rank as one of those phenomena that everyone wishes they had gotten in on while they had the chance. In other words, buy into this now, while you still can.
Scribed by: Dave Bowes