Lunaire - S/T EP

Alex Nelson 12/01/2011

Rating: 4/5

Lunaire have existed for a little while now, representing the darkened undercurrent of the 'real' Norwich scene, shadowed only by all the smooth edged jumped up synth-pop inexplicably given airplay and exposure in the city. It probably hasn't helped that their MySpace page (that in itself a signifier of the sort of up-to-the-minute information and material we are dealing with) contains nowt but a few old gig posters and a couple of mysterious thirty second snippets of sound, apparently recorded in a box room on a phone.

Yes, the band have been fairly quiet on the gig and recording front as of late, but listen carefully beneath the surface of those scratchy demos and it's quite clear to see that Lunaire sound like a melting pot of every progressive post-punk/goth/avant-
garde band ever going; Everything from Joy Division to The Fall to Xiu Xiu. Where in the early days these guys were seemingly half pinching their ideas from These New Puritans records; ever since their first live shows, they have been evolving their sets to include ever more expansive midi-controlled soundscapes. Between the angular guitars and gloom laden drone vocals are all-encompassing sonic panoramas, blanketing the silence between songs with inescapable noise and melancholy.

The four tracks presented here are unrecognisable from any Lunaire tracks that have gone before, although this offers no indication as to whether these are brand new tracks or heavily reworked numbers from the band's established catalogue as
evolution seems to be something of a running theme for the band. Indeed, the time away from the live circuit to work on this debut four track EP - recorded at the newly opened Toad Row Studios in Suffolk - has given them plenty of time to run with
that. Something of a sophomore release for both the band and the studio, the record is well constructed throughout, using lo-fi techniques only when necessary to enhance the experience. It is testament to producer Will Vaughn who gives the whole package
a very deliberate finish and offers up his talents and skill-sets for the greater good.

EP opener 'Fly In The Ointment's slow-build intro of palpating helicopter synth distortions and gentle white noise gives way to the song's main body of My Bloody Valentine cymbal teasing and lead singer Oliver Goulden's Curtis-a-like vocals, making it possibly the most sorrowfully sounding song to ever mention the word 'Christmas'. Ever. All this even before drummer Corrin Campbell-Johnston has stepped up a notch and launched into the heartily hammered pounding tom refrain which elevates the track higher.

Two minute instrumental 'Porous' follows, and the track is all atmospherically cut synth swells and xylophone (yes, the TNPS comparisons are lazy, but this is almost an electronic answer to all the 'Time Xone' refrains off of TNPS' latest 'Hidden').

'Cold War' is third, the achingly slow rise to its band freak-out centrepiece at the one minute thirty four mark complimented by Goulden's reverb drenched vocals - like an atmospheric Faris Badwan - and climatic cymbal crashes. The song erupts into a cacophony of sound, spasmodically charged electrics going haywire backed by Campbell-Johnston's militant snares. The track continues on for a couple more minutes before winding down and finding peace with itself gradually. 'Stage Hands' is the EP closer, and the standout track of the four. Its intro of glitch-core beats and sonar synths cementing a sturdy base from which the piece builds around repetitively, but always holding interest. Mid-track, the song breaks down for a few moments, gathering its breath in a flurry of choppy sporadic notes before launching into its exhilarating climax; a sonic chorus of major chords, a final push to the end of the record.

And it's a promisingly listenable record from a bunch of young, pensive noiseniks. Now, if only this synth-gloom would grab the attention of the masses from Norwich and beyond as much as the tired old synth-pop, everyone would be happy... Perhaps defeating the purpose?

Listen to the EP, in full and for FREE at:

Lunaire EP by Lunaire-UK