Exile On Mainstream
26 January 2009
by Jerry Ewing
Art, in metallic terms, is all too often a by word for arse. And on paper Enablers really shouldn’t offer too much for the ardent headbanger. But these days rock fans can be a thoughtful bunch, seeking all manner of catharsis in sound, and if it’s this latter category you feel you subscribe to, then Tundra might just be for you.
What we have here are ex-members of post punks like revered drone rockers Swans, San Franciscan punks Toiling Midgets and alt.country band Tarnation. And the soundscapes they provide as a backdrop for Pete Simonelli’s post-beat narrative meld parts of such seemingly disparate musical areas into a slow-building hypnotic groove.
But of course, therein lies the rub. Spoken word. Poetry even. Set to music. It’s never exactly been the stuff of commercially-minded dreams. And let’s face it, this is not even a Henry Rollins rant-a-thon, but at times draws comparisons with the likes of The Doors’ ‘Horse Latitudes’. Or even a less spaced out Julian Cope narrating ‘Reynard The Fox’.
What saves Enablers from being art for art’s sake (or even arse for arse’s sake), is the soundtrack supplied behind Simonelli’s dark, staccato delivery. On early tracks like ‘The Destruction Most Of All’ and ‘New Moon’ Enablers are all drone minimalism, but as the music and narrative gathers apace sudden explosions of fury erupt within the likes of the title track, ‘The Achievement’ and most notably with furious force on ‘Bells’.
Wisely the album’s kept to just over half an hour, because to attempt to labour the point to the unconverted would be like cutting off your nose to spite your face. And perhaps more wisely still, the CD run in the UK is limited to a mere 1200, even if it will come housed in handmade, silk-screened wooden box. For whilst Tundra does not have widespread appeal, it is not without a certain charm.
Enablers – Tundra tracklisting
The Destruction Most Of All