Fire In The Northern Firs, Of Bones and Things
In some ways, Of Bones and Things sounds like it belongs in a different era, or a few of ‘em – the early ’90s, for sure, home of richly-layered, effects-laden guitar textures, and the 1970s, home of CAN and Mekkanik Krautrock beat-dropping, and the late ’60s, home of Coven and beautifully satanic-sounding female vocals. In another, though, this is a deeply modern record, wielding drones and repetition like a finely-honed rapier, sounding like a missive from another planet, all echo-drenched voices and deeply-throbbing beats. It’s right up my alley, and it’s terrific.
It’s one of those albums that just grabs you in its arms and totally envelops you. Listen to the delightfully inviting guitar sounds on “Chimera,” for example, bolstered by an awesome, propulsive bassline and some anxious, supple alto vocals. Or the almost spy-movie vibe of “Interior Design #1,” pushed along by a neatly danceable disco groove and a weird, fluttering melody line that sounds equal parts gasp and wail. Unlike a lot of shoegaze-influenced albums, this thing rocks as often as it floats, too, with tracks like “Chatrooms” and “Noche De La Bruja” constructed around heavy, forward-moving rock beats. Hypnotic, it ain’t – this is more like a fever dream.
There ain’t a lot of hooks here, but that isn’t the point. This isn’t traditional songwriting – think Eno, who once said that repetition was a kind of progress. The Krautrock guys knew that, too, and the Velvets – this is that kind of record, full of machine-like repetition and awesome noise and chilly vibes. And unlike a lotta shoegaze records, nothing outstays its welcome. Apart from one seven-minute epic, everything hovers around the three-minute mark, which means they have a limited amount of time to say an awful lot of stuff, and they do, marvelously. Of Bones and Things is a strange little odyssey, a tautly-drawn, powerful record full of great, mysterious songs.