30 Nov 2020 - Thorsten
Drone-Pop | Release date: 30 Nov 2020
A band with a name that reminds one of R.E.M. plays music that reminds one of The Flenser - without being on The Flenser.
Sens Dep (short for ‘Sensory Deprivation’) was founded as a side project of Australian band Laura already more than ten years ago but never released a debut album up to now. They will change that at the end of November with the release of Lush Desolation, an eleven track record bathing in both ugly and beautiful sounds.
This stark contrast is what makes the band really interesting and their sound often reminds us of a noisy and droney version of triphop; or a beautifully meandering version of drone and thus like a crossover between Slowdive, Jesu and Archive. What they share with each of these? Well, let’s see.
With Justin K. Broadrick’s famous post-Godflesh – band the band from Melbourne share the love for drones that build and edge out noisily but that never seek harshness as a primary motif. They rather incorporate their drones and synth spaces onto each other in order to construct some beautiful soundscapes, their ‘Lushness’ is not in pain but in beauty. They construct sheer mountains with their drones. Take the final track “Luckless Hunter” as an example – here the band places layer upon layer and the whole construction is like a beautiful (yet also scary) sunrise above the Alps.
They also feature some really enchanting vocals in their songs, not on all but on some of them. And the thing about these vocals is their chanting pop-appeal, thus the connection to Slowdive and their very mesmerizing use of vocals in order to enhance the overall impression of a very plush and very admirable new way of creating shoegaze with a twist. This one is not based on indie rock but on drone music and this combination which is also a bit like Wreckmeister Harmonies or Jarboe is very nice and easy to follow because of the vocals.
The triphop bits can be heard when listening to “New Dawn”, the first track of the record – those dragging beats (though pretty quick-paced), which only kick in after two minutes, could also be straight out of a long-forgotten Archive track at the time of their first, still noisier albums. Or straight from Tricky’s earlier record, where he also uses some industrial beats and distorts them even further.
The band has obviously taken its time – in between they created lots of sounds to accompany visual media or installations. While doing this the project grew into a live band and playing some specially curated live shows they did not concentrate on releasing music that could stand on its own without any accompaniment. But now they did and they also came back to being a trio, one that has something to say with the help of dark, yet beautiful music. Music that will reward you for peeling back layer after layer so that you can discover some minute details like the cello parts which do not automatically reveal themselves. Or the small, Sigur Ros-like, vocals that are sometimes used in the background as another instrument in order to give the tracks some more human sound.
All of this and much more can be heard when taking your time to sit back and dive headfirst into this landscape rich of sounds that is Lush Desolation. The only thing lacking is ‘Desolation’, because the record is too warm and too rewarding for one to feel despair or desolation.