Review: The Janitors ‘Noisolation Volume 2’

As David Lynch’s much-maligned version of Dune reminds me, words have power: ‘I can kill with a word.’ Similarly, band names have power. Band names have the power to conjure an image of the music and the musicians. They can give music lovers a summary, a sketch, even a manifesto. To this end, The Janitors confuse me.

I read the press kit, so I knew roughly what to expect, but I can’t shake the feeling that it’s a name that could belong to another band. A dirty, four-on-the-floor garage punk outfit belting out frantic paeans to the joys of drinkin’, fuckin’, and fightin’. Or at least cars and guitars.

I enjoy that stuff from time to time, but on this occasion, I’m pleased to report that you won’t hear anything of that nature on Noisolation Volume 2. What you’ll hear instead is a nearly ceaseless barrage of dense, gloomy, droning meditations on the gothic (at least in the literary sense) obsessions of madness, mortality, exploitation, and entrapment. Actually, I should confess that I can’t actually make out much of the lyrical content, so that may just be my projection; suffice to say it’s not breezy. I hope the track rundown that follows will give you a fairly clear sense of how thick, torpid, and pulverising this album is.

When you hit play, the tone is set in seconds; Bellwellhell opens the album with nasty droning guitar, languid rhythm, and vocals reverbed to within an inch of their lives. At a few points when you think the song might kick up a gear, the band holds the tension with their single-minded dedication to the same droning groove. The energy does build though, subtly and inexorably, and by the time it swirls and squeals to a close, it’s almost too much.

The second track Rymdämnden doesn’t provide much relief. The lumbering rhythms, the density, and the darkness, both of musical and of lyrical tone, are relentless. There’s a brief reprieve, then back to an even denser version of the same groove.

a nearly ceaseless barrage of dense, gloomy, droning meditations…

Hum In A World Of Noise is the lightest track to this point, but even here there’s a distant squealing and squalling. It’s almost a desert feel, maybe part of the soundtrack to a particularly violent spaghetti western, and again a masterclass in tension. Vile And Lost is a shorter, abstract, and percussion oriented piece, like an ugly cousin to the tail end of Pink Floyd’s Bike.

The halfway point brings us Thin Line clanking to life. This time there’s a semblance of easing the listener in, followed by a sudden increase in density to the same oppressive levels you’ve come to expect. Likewise with the following tune Levoton; the long intro section is relatively spacious, but it’s menacing more than beautiful. The tension continues for a good four minutes before the full crushing, droning groove drops on you.

Making Demons begins with little fanfare, and another impossibly dense and lumbering aural pummelling begins. Again, The Janitors devotion to one mood and groove is nearly unwavering, but a big increase in energy after several minutes is most welcome.

So I reach final track Nowhere To Come Down just as I near the end of my store of adjectives to describe intense musical experiences. But there’s no reprieve till the song, and the album are over – another six minutes of throbbing tension and near-unbearable emotional anguish.

But I made it; it’s a sombre, gloomy, and occasionally oppressive experience. It’s thick and reverb-y, with layers that reveal themselves over time. It’s arguably gothic, probably even psychedelic from time to time, heavy as hell, and absolutely worth your time and dollarydoos.

Label: Cardinal Fuzz Records | Bad Afro Records | Little Cloud Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Rob Bryant