The closest thing to a British Murder Boys album that we’re ever likely to get. Half an hour of previously unheard material, prepared during their artist residency at the armed-with-literally-fucking-everything Willem Twee Studios in Den Bosch, and performed at Stadsschouwburg de Vereeniging in Nijmegen on June 7, 2019.
If you’re expecting sledgehammering broken techno, move along; this set very much indulges the duo’s more esoteric interests, not least the funeral-in-space rituals of late-period Coil. Just as with Coil, it’s resoundingly gothic, but mordantly, mischievously so, and the overall vibe is ASCENSION - the opening section, with its sinewy synth drones and reverberant piano-strikes, feels like the all-aquiver bastard offspring of Alice Coltrane’s ‘Prema’ (!) and SPK’s Zammia Lehmanni or something. Hold tight for the provincial S-M enthusiast recounting his fondness for consensual fladge and the injustice of his subsequent prosecution, and, wait for it, two bona fide SONGS - a suitably skulking cover of Lou Reed’s dour Street Hassle death-trip ‘Real Good Time Together’, and, the true revelation, a legitimately blinding BMB original called, I'm guessing, 'Speak To Me'. Regis’s vocals are a mannered, bad-uncle sprechgesang, raw and exposed, shooting for that very English Tibet / Ka-Spel / Jhonny B. register, while the music itself is a brilliantly atmospheric, lucid-dreaming cabaret-shuffle / brothel-creep, channelling Marc & The Mambas, Neubauten, Bad Seeds, that whole ‘80s Mute/Some Bizarre milieu, but with staccato drum machines, queasy threshold ambience and aching guitar contrails that are pure Sleazy. The end-piece, a kind of metallic electro throbber, threatening to become drum'n'bass, is the closest thing here to "typical"/vintage BMB - and still some way off.
It would be easy to say that none of this (shall we just agree to call it an album?) is what you'd expect from the Brum brute-techno overlords, but the clues are there in modular-mad Surgeon’s last album and improv-oriented Transcendence Orchestra stuff, and in the stately darkling drone-'scapes present in pretty much all of Regis’s post-2010 works, and a furtive pop impulse traceable back to the earliest days of Downwards. In moving away from overt displays of firepower to a far more subtle and suggestive engaging of the senses, BMB have, I think, properly remade themselves. Who needs a bazooka if you're handy with a knife?!
Edition of 200, a cassette-only release - no digital or any of that.