Reviewed by Bec Hennessy
Perth conjurers Eleventh He Reaches London get darkly introspective on Banhus – the third release for this west-coast five-piece. Detuned minimalist guitars rising and falling in a post punk/post rock dirge; hovering over their own casket in some kind of astral projection or post death shade reciting their own eulogy.
“I’m a dragging cloud, fly blown in the mire, I love nothing and no one and regret all I’ve done” laments the first track ‘The Dragging Cloud’. Stop/ start atonal guitars, cymbals then crashing over and over, a heaving avalanche of broken glass. At 8 minutes 44 it has time to undulate and stretch into a few forms. The tempo slowing, and slowing like a dying heart. Vocals becoming more hoarse – spoken word incantations over noise.
I really enjoy the creepy, Sabbath-y vibe of ‘Code Entwined‘. Desperation seeping into the vocals as they cry wretchedly ‘Bānhūs, bānhūs is broken mind and organ loss‘ . The slow tempo rising at the end towards a nice post rock crescendo.
‘Body Unbind‘ won WAM’s (West Australian Music) 2013 song of the year in the Rock Category. At 5 minutes 27 it’s probably their most accessible track. It’s beautifully spooky, the vocal style sweetening. A low lilting choir hums in the background, underpinned by a simple repetitive guitar melody.
‘Veil’ is a departure, coming in at just under 2 minutes. It’s all breathy and vulnerable, bursting out into a jig before departing. It’s funny that it doesn’t seem rushed or contrived, despite it anomalistic length. Proving they don’t have to stick to the rambling, epic formula for their stuff to work.
I sometimes find the simple, repetitive guitar lines irking me slightly. Same goes for the chanting, spoken word vocals. But I feel they definitely work in the overall context. On ‘Glass Harmonium‘ they are paired with nicely sinister, lumbering bass and drums. The lyrics confessing ‘I stayed home and locked the doors And drank all I wanted and built myself. Again, again‘ – which sounds like my Friday night. But somehow I think they mean the more ‘stormy winds blowing on the drawn curtains by candlelight’ Friday night lament.
‘To Whomever‘ is a bitter suicide letter set to a slow funeral march. ‘To whomever I’ve loved, you never meant that much I’ve nothing left, I’m nothing more than bone and ash’.
I gotta say in the end I liked this album more than I initially thought I would. I like a good dirge, and I don’t think they are pulling any punches in what they are going for here. It’s moody yet urgent, appealing to the doom and gloom sayer in me.
It’s not disc I’d spin every night, but in the right mood it’s perfect.