Album Review: Sobranie 8 18.

In the intro we move between planets, between blackened expanses, between drift and heat. The rush of crushed synths that glide into nothing, the pressures of vacuums of sight, sound and noise, the glimpses of satellite signals… Where most songs titled ‘Intro’ serve to highlight the next, here’s a thick set of movements and silence.

St. Vincent, Fever Ray, and debts paid to nu-wave and Euro-pop goth, they weave like a trail of debris. In the cool and the calm and the cold, voices warp from a glide to a shout. In Russian we twist from neat hits to a howl and a world of elsewheres churn around us.

Isolated and panicked, we drift into ‘Lucy’; a harsh demonstration of a fearless resolve to play hard with mood, light and texture. We move from electrified symphonic swells into glints of industrialised ugly, from a gutsy and Nico-esque flat-power vocal to a bit-rate vocodered robotic. Switching language to English doesn’t add or distract, it’s just one more prepped weapon to toy with. And by the time ‘Mozart’ slugs up to full swing, we hit blunt Kap Bambino glitched violence.

Every tone is exact, isolated. Bred for aggression or chill. ‘Angels Flight’ conjures dark EDM at half speed and again her voice bends to new shapes. There’s an innocence, briefly, sung fragile and strained, before turning distorted over Trent Reznor drums and a haunt-hunted synth that soft-shimmers. And if all this so far wasn’t enough show and tell, it’s the next that moves most loose and reckless.   

Every influence ramps to theatric proportions. There’s sweet dark pop hooks, woozy sax intersections, the EDM plays up to camp house progressions, and grandeur creak-grinds through a slipstream of dance. While ‘Stars’ giddily twists through the force of the playful, and its show of sure-footed assurance, there’s so much here I start to feel full. All that came through before was so measured, so tactile in short blasts of empty and crass. It may be because it’s the most loved and sculpted that something just aches in the weight.     

Where this first set of tracks gnarled their teeth and released, the second spins more tempered textures. ‘Intro 2’ marks the start of the flip-side, as it calls in a fear and brings an iced touch. Jagged sounds cut through hiss and that free-moving voice seems to stretch the effects that contort it. ‘Harmonica’ spikes with a gloss-glistened menace, with its feel of a gripped apprehension. It’s stripped, almost naked, metallic to the touch. It’s the best of these slow-glow exposures.

Only twice do we start to meander, where intent and cause seem to creep out of view. But when blunt shades of darkness are so lightly played with, so smoothly and so tightly packed, it’s an album that swerves between romance and violence, that tricks and takes us someplace other.  

‘Sobranie 8 18’ is out now. And as always highlights from this and other featured releases can heard on Rats On Run Radio.

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