Album Reviews

Transept – TRSPT001

(Dronehenge) UK release date: 31 January 2011

A quick scan down the list of the instruments used on TRSPT001 is something of an eye-opener.

This Norfolk three-piece, whose songs appear to rely mainly on rickety sci-fi keyboards, also find time to honk, bang, prod or bow such unusual items as antlers, lazer crystals, copper piping and a plant-controlled omnichord. Such quirkiness should be applauded as much as it is given the stink-eye of perceived pretentiousness, although it does call to mind the strange experimental period of Reeves and Mortimer’s Mulligan and O’Hare. Yet, the resulting album is not as peculiar as one might expect.

The 12-minute opener The Demands Of Levitating Heavy Stones develops remarkably slowly, as any song controlled by a plant is likely to do. Essentially it starts life as a solitary twinkling star in a pitch black sky, beautiful and simple. Something that sounds like a supremely woozy theramin joins a hymal keyboard and suddenly more celestial beings begin to flicker into life. Electronic sturm und drang enters the fray as the band remove their sights from the skies and apparently focus more intently on what sounds like techno-dread as experienced via the filter of Tomorrow’s World, or perhaps Jeff Wayne‘s War Of The Worlds. The sense of fear conjured up throughout the midsection is palpable, and although it could still be described initially as retaining an ambient feel, stabs of electronic lightning eventually annihilate any remaining sense of security. The skronking freeform solo which screams its way to the close has shades of John Coletrane‘s blitzkrieg assaults, but feels oddly out of place with everything that precedes it.

The relative calm of Antler Song follows in a soft-focus melancholic fashion, serving predominantly as a bridge between the opener and the centrepiece of the album, Leopard Slug Love Song, where once again progress is slow. However, the emotional resonance that builds throughout is considerable; in addition, It’s they closest they get to emulating the kind of prog that Pink Floyd explored on Dark Side Of The Moon. Cavernous drums, searing keyboard solos and cinematic sound effects direct from the shoulder of Orion all make an appearance. It manages to sound both dated and beamed in from the future, but most importantly, it packs a splendid poignant punch.

Taking a more straightforward mournful tone is the hymnal blues of Death Of The Sea Sentinel, whose droning organ and wisp like vocals are almost painfully sad. The haunting hush of Nothing The Noth Pt 1 meanwhile could easily be the soundtrack that runs inside the head of a particularly sadistic serial killer as he sharpens his tools and packs them into the boot of his car. The feedback that engulfs the latter stages of the song increases the tension and causes static to form in front of the eyes – quite unsettling indeed.

Transept have created an album that is kaleidoscopic in scope both musically and psychologically. Impossible to really describe accurately in terms of genre, it’s far safer to relax and explore the other worlds they present you with – although it’s worth keeping the lights on for Nothing The Noth.

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Transept – TRSPT001