Review: Darsombra ‘Dumesday Book’

Formed in 2005, Darsombra are Baltimore duo Brian Daniloski (guitar, bass, vocals and sound design) and Ann Everton (synth, vocals, percussion and projections). The band have a slew of releases to their name and started work on Dumesday Book during spring 2020 for three solid years. According to the accompanying promotional notes the album is a ‘ten-song survey of sentiment and human experience in the pandemic, from initial lockdown to vaccinated re-emergence and beyond’. Appetite whetted? Mine is…

Darsombra 'Dumesday Book' Artwork
Darsombra ‘Dumesday Book’ Artwork

Shelter In Place with its waves of majestic synth interspersed with guitar recalls Nine Inch Nails at their most melodic and introspective as well as outfits such as Filter and Failure. The track’s sense of expansiveness is the perfect scene setter and a hell of a way to open the album. Call The Doctor, along with Nightgarden, was released in EP form back in 2021 but with different mixes. The track is a sprawling behemoth similar to the synth scapes of Autobahn era Kraftwerk as well as the space-rock explorations of Ash Ra Tempel, in other words, there is a strong krautrockian flavour present. Sonically speaking, its incredible how contemporary and fresh it sounds despite these nods to the ‘70s.

Plague Times is one part Earth style drone and one part the eccentric brilliance of guitarist Sir Richard Bishop and his twisted brand of folk blues. Everything Is Cancelled evokes the sense of eerie serenity that existed during lockdown when the streets were virtually deserted. Dejected vocals repeat the track’s title while the music itself is suitably gloomy and gothic influenced. Hopelessness is positively omnipresent here making you desperate to escape the suffocating despondency. A great track.

The aforementioned Nightgarden (Profundo Mix) seems to mine a similar territory to Call The Doctor but with more of a John Carpenter feel, it’s darn pretty. According to the Cambridge Dictionary Azimuth is described as ‘the position of an object in the sky, expressed as an angle related to a distance on the horizon of the earth’. Make of that what you will, it is the longest track on the album at well over seventeen minutes and truly epic. There are shades of bands such as Nektar and Eloy, both of whom came from the more progressive wing of the krautrock scene as well as perhaps a little of Magma’s Zeuhl weirdness thrown in for good measure. The sound the band produce here is truly unique and extraordinary to behold.

a remarkable piece of work and a testament to the band’s creative vision…

Still Cancelled at thirty-five seconds is a short instrumental piece that provides one with a brief respite after the comparatively lengthy preceding track, while A New Dell recalls early ‘80s King Crimson sans vocals. The main melody is somewhat catchy and possibly the closest thing approximating an earworm on what has been a far from conventional album.

If you saw the Gibbet Lore video premiere over on The Shaman recently, you may have become enraptured as I was with its outright surreal qualities. Musically it starts off in a dusty desert-rock fashion before evolving into some kind of pagan-led folk experience making for what is a mesmerising and intriguing piece. Finally, Mellow Knees helps conclude the album in a wonderfully warm fashion, the sonic equivalent of having a warm blanket to snuggle up in on a freezing cold winter’s night. Bliss.

Darsombra are nothing if not ambitious, following a forty-one-minute single track album (2019s Transmission) with a seventy-five-minute record does not suggest a band who do things by half. Therefore, Dumesday Book is a remarkable piece of work and a testament to the band’s creative vision which you need to check out ASAP.

Label: Pnictogen Records
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills