Biography

(1987-1991)

Nothing this band did before prepares you for Descension.

‘Slab’ just about sums up this record. Tunnel of Love, the opener, opens with a burst of white noise, a whirlwind of ominous guitar, sampled to sound like no other guitar you’ve ever heard. This is a statement of intent and from hereon in, there’s no let up - like the soundtrack to the scariest movie you’ve never seen. Undriven Snow melds a discordant two note guitar intro with a surprisingly melodic vocal, the bass bucking and warping, threatening to take the whole song down some dark alley and give it a damn good kicking.

Think of Descension as an industrial jazz record with all the stops pulled out.

This is dark stuff, drony, dubby, loud as hell. This isn’t lo-fi - put this band in a 48 track digital studio and they wouldn’t make any sense. Slab need that dirty, scuzzed out sound, that rough around the edges feel - they rip into every song as if their recording time is on a meter. Everything sounds urgent, impassioned - Dolores is a huge stand out track, at once both paranoid and immense, the hushed verse giving way to monstrous beats, hesitant horns punctuating a fierce bass line. Improvisation is high on the agenda on tracks such as Dr Bombay and Moosleand, where Slab slip effortlessly slip into loungecore, improvising effortlessly around a skittery piano and erratic beats - the sound of a band confident enough to know that they can get away with this and still make it compelling. Even the way in which the tracks have been recorded suggest an urgency, a real desperation to get this stuff down onto tape before the moment is lost - ticks and buzzes, feedback, strange industrial clankings, buzzy amps - all have their place here. Even the samples are ragged, punched in when required, speed of the essence.

If this sounds exhausting, it is, but this is exhilarating stuff as well - music played by a band straining at the end of its tether, music teetering on the edge of collapse.

Two bonus tracks are included from the People Pie 12”, but they already show a band retreating, as if the excesses of Descension were merely a freak aberration. As good as People Pie is, it can’t disguise a move into a more commercial sound, something that Descension does not concern itself with at all. And why should it? Twenty years on, this sounds as good now as it did then.

First Line Up
Stephen Dray vocals/sax
Bill Davies bass
Paul Jarvis gtr
Robin RIsso drums
Hugh Rawson trumpet
Neil Woodger trombone

Second Line Up (Descension)
Stephen Dray vocals/sax
Bill Davies bass
Dave Morris gtr
Paul Jarvis gtr
Robin RIsso drums

Third Line Up (People Pie single and 3rd Peel Session)
Stephen Dray vocals/sax
Bill Davies bass
Dave Morris gtr
Paul Jarvis gtr
Scott Kiehl drums

Fourth Line Up (Sanity Allergy)
Stephen Dray vocals
Dave Morris gtr
Paul Jarvis gtr
Scott Kiehl bass
Lou Ciccotelli drums

Last line up
Stephen Dray vocals
Paul Jarvis gtr
Sherman at the Controls/Drugs
Bolesaw Uzarasewski bass
Rob Allum drums










Edited by [deleted user] on 30 Aug 2012, 16:48

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