28 Aug 2021 - Thorsten
Post-Punk | Golden Antenna Records | Release date: 03 Sep 2021
When you hear a pumping bass-line, a vocal sample talking about what one should fear and what not, a distant, slightly mid-tempo picked-guitar lines developing into a rather space-taking guitar melody and when all of that is then joined by a voice like a cross between Vincent Price and Ian Curtis – then it must be a post-punk record, maybe one of THE Post-Punk records of the year! Welcome Ropes of Night!
The second release by Cologne-based Post-Punkers Ropes Of Night (after their initial EP in May 2020) is a big leap forwards for them, not just a plain small step. The new line-up, with bass-player Thomas now also handling the vocal duties and with new drummer Manu joining Thomas and the two guitarists Martin and Ralph, displays such a thorough understanding of the genre that one quickly knows that these are guys who not only love the music of Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bambara and Interpol but who share a high aptitude at creating these sonically dark spaces which are often harsher than many people think. However, these are also only the fellows who know Joy Division from the shirts – the haunting one, we all know and many (like me detest it by now for being too omnipresent in our culture for all the wrong reasons) – and even if I do not know if Ralph, who comes up with the music for Ropes Of Night, owns one of them: He surely knows the Mancunian beacon’s whole discography, even though The Cure might be a bit more to his taste.
To be honest, there is not one single track on Impossible Space that is out of place and to make it even worse for all the nay-sayers, the tracklist is also most cleverly arranged. There will be people out there who will claim the band not to come up with anything quintessentially new and yes, on the one hand that argument is true. Throbbing bass-lines like the opening one in ”Another Closing Door” are nothing unusual in this genre; melancholic synth studies like ”The Drowning Lesson” (which at first glance has nearly no clear guitar); sparkling guitar parts like ”Perfect Prison” - all of these might have been heard on other records. Nevertheless, the argument is completely derailed at a time when cut-up and re-configure is the music method of the moment and when it is nearly impossible to write music unheard before and uninfluenced by anything at all. Hermetic music will forever remain the hermit’s alone and thus – unheard by the audience. This record therefore is a record by lovers of the genre for whoever wants to listen to it.
When listening to Impossible Space it becomes immediately clear how good of a singer Thomas really is – Curtis would be as happy with him as maybe Cave. His voice is warm and softly embracing and yet sometimes has this crisp, staggering punch; not making use of these fine vocal chords would be a shameful waste. Thomas also writes the lyrics and he comes up with puns and connections to popular culture that are so well-incorporated that you recognize them and see the different context simultaneously: He references Dumas’ revenge classic The Count of Montechristo (in ”Perfect Prison”), drops a nod to Edward Hopper’s infamous painting of the ”Boulevard of Broken Dreams” (NO not the Green Day-shmock!) and even has some religious connections when he uses the metaphor of “Crown of Thorns” (both in ”What’s Done is Done”). He counters these (maybe unintentional) references with some very clear and well-pointed lines, like the near-scream “For I am bored like hell / I want you to forget / So we can find something new” (in “What’s Done Is Done”).
All of the above shows how introspect the lyrics are, how deeply concerned with the inner well-being. And maybe that is a possible interpretation of the record’s title – maybe we are the Impossible Space as the heart and the soul and the mind are impossible to unravel. Or as Ralph said in an upcoming interview “the heart can handle so much sorrow, so much despair” - it is near-impossible to understand how it keeps on beating, keeps on loving. Just like the band loves the genre. And the genre should love the band. So should most of us.